Good health is one of the most important determinants of a child’s life chances. All professionals working in the foundation years need to be involved in promoting and encouraging children’s healthy development.
The Healthy Child Programme is the National Health Service’s framework for provision in the foundation years. It consists of a mixed approach of preventative programmes for all children and families with targeted and additional support to meet identified needs.
Health visitors deliver the programme, which is being made available to all families. It is evidence based and the interventions within it, such as vaccines and immunisations, tests and screening programmes, help drive up public health across the board.
The government is currently introducing a new model for health visiting services which will strengthen the provision of the healthy child programme across England. The model will bring improved access and time with families, providing services where it best suits the family – at home, in health settings including GP surgeries, in Sure Start Children’s Centre as well as other non-traditional settings.
Families need different levels of service and may need different services at different times. This is reflected in the new service model, which has five key areas where health visiting services will have a major role:
The rollout of this new health visiting service will be helped by the addition of 4,200 more health visitors by 2015.
In a growing number of areas across the country the Family Nurse Partnership programme is being offered to first time disadvantaged mothers, giving intensive, structured support by specially trained nurses, and improving the outcomes of the most vulnerable families.
Quality provision is typified through partnership working between health and education professionals on identifying and responding to needs as early as possible in order to have an impact on outcomes.
Children’s health development begins in pregnancy and it is the responsibility of midwives to assess the health and social care needs of mums by the twelfth week of pregnancy. The midwife will co-ordinate the support of other professionals as needed to support the mum and family as required.
Midwives and health visitors have a focus on promoting positive parenting and good parent–child attachments and relationships as well as ensuring healthy development.
The ‘National Health Visitor Plan: progress to date and implementation 2013 onwards’ sets out how partner organisations will work with the health profession, families and communities to achieve government’s health visiting commitment. You can read it here
The Department of Health has developed a fact sheet for parents called ‘Getting to know your health visiting and school nursing service’. It outlines what parents can expect from their local services and how health visitors can support children from 0-5 and their families. You can view it here
In June 2013 the Department of Health published guidance for professionals when working with domestic violence and abuse which can be accessed here
How is health information shared and used in your situation?
Where you work – how often do health and education professionals meet to learn from each other?
This project from the School Food Trust is all about helping young children to eat well by working with families and everyone involved in early years health and education.
Did you know?
Children start learning about food at a very early age. The messages they receive during this time lay the foundations for the choices they make about food as they move up to school and beyond. With more than one in five children overweight or obese as they start their reception year, it’s never been more important to help them get a healthy start in life.
That’s why the School Food Trust is leading work to help early years professionals meet children’s nutritional needs more consistently, and to help families with young children to develop the cooking skills and confidence they need to cook and eat more healthily.
The Eat Better, Start Better project involves:
Log on to the School Food Trust website for updates on the Eat Better, Start programme and on the local authorities taking part in the School Food Trust pilot.
In July 2011 the UK Governments published new physical activity guidelines and for the first time these included guidelines specifically for the under 5s. The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC) has produced two information booklets which are designed to give early years practitioners and health professionals help with using these guidelines effectively and to provide practical tips.
In recognition of the emerging evidence supporting the promotion of physical activity in the early years, the BHFNC has also produced an evidence briefing, which is designed for professionals who require a detailed review of the evidence base available for physical activity and the early years.
Information is included on:
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