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The Health Visiting Service in Cheshire East is provided by Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust. Health Visitors are specialists in child health and development who work at community, family and individual levels to promote and improve the health and well-being of pre-school children and their families.
In particular they can provide:
- parenting support and advice on family health and minor illnesses
- new birth visits
- advice and support around emotions and health
- advice around feeding, weaning and dental health
- physical and developmental checks
- one-to-one breastfeeding support
- child safety advice
- help to address concerns you might have about sleep or behaviour
- support and information about other services and groups that can provide additional support
- support for specific issues such as post natal depression
- where identified as needed, referral to specialists such as Speech and Language Therapy.
In Cheshire East the service is delivered as part of the “Parenting Journey” pathway in conjunction with colleagues from Cheshire East Family Services. There are four levels of service:
- Community – working with partners in community services to develop and promote the availability of services
- Universal – this includes contacts with families before your baby is born, new birth visits when your baby is 10-14 days old and contacts when your baby is 4-8 weeks old, 12 – 16 weeks old, 9 – 12 months old and 2 – 2 ½ years old. You will be contacted by your Health Visitor about these contacts.
- Universal Plus – gives you a rapid response from the service when you need specific expert help e.g. about postnatal depression, a sleepless baby, weaning or answering any concerns you may have about parenting
- Universal Partnership Plus – provides ongoing support from your Health Visitor or other specialist services to help deal with more complex, long term issues.
Health Visitors are also trained to recognise the risk factors, triggers and signs of abuse and neglect in children as well as what steps to take to protect them. They are often the first to recognise that the risk of harm to a child has escalated to a point that procedures need to be implemented to protect them. They maintain contact with families while formal safeguarding arrangements are in place so that families receive the best possible support during this time.
The Trust also delivers the Family Nurse Partnership which offers an intensive and structured support to young first time mothers up until their children have reached the age of two.