A new organisation is being set up to support and champion the work of health visitors.
The Institute of Health Visiting has been created to promote excellence and consistency in health visiting. Due to launch formally later this month, it has the support of ministers and the Royal College of Public health and the Royal College of Paediatrics and child health.
The institute’s founding director is Cheryll Adams, a senior health visitor who has been a DH advisor. She said the aim of the new organisation was to nurture leaders and enhance public understanding of the health visitor role, as well as supporting research and improving the quality of education.
Its first big project is setting up an online professional network, or “community of practice”, she told delegates at last week’s Unite Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association conference in Brighton.
The networking site will provide an online forum to discuss best practice and share advice and experiences, but only health visitors will be able to sign up.
The institute has worked with a number of partners on the project including the Open University, Netmums and Hertfordshire University, with funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing.
Professor Sally Kendall, from Hertfordshire’s Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, said: “It looks absolutely nothing like Facebook, but it does have key features that people are used to in terms of how you start to engage with it.”