Experiences of Norfolk’s health visitor service Feb 2023

From conversations with families who have young children, we heard some concerns about support offered to them during their children’s early years – in particular changes to services due to the COVID-19 pandemic with more remote support being offered and fewer home visits from the health visitor service. Therefore, we wanted to find out more from parents and carers about their experiences in the last 12 months to find out what support they had received from the health visitor service, what was good, and what could be improved. We created a survey to capture these experiences which we handed out at community groups and every library in Norfolk. We also shared the survey online, through social media, and to schools and nurseries through email. We received 277 complete responses to our survey.

We found parents and carers with babies under six months old were more likely to have used the health visitor service in the past year and were more likely to have received a home visit in the past year than those with older children.

In addition, 97% of those with babies under six months old who took part in the survey told us they had received a new birth appointment and 93% told us they had received a home visit. These families were also more likely to tell us that they felt completely supported by the health visitor service.

Families we heard from wanted more regular support from the health visitor service, particularly between the six to eight week review and the one year review.

Home visits from the service were seen as preferred for future support by 93% of people who answered our survey.

Questionnaires were seen by some families as impersonal particularly if there was a lack of follow up communication.

Difficulties with phone and video support was discussed such as connection issues or that families felt their
baby or toddler needed to be seen to check development. Checking development of the baby was seen as the most useful support offered by the health visitor service, with 91% of respondents telling us they found it useful.

Those who had positive experiences with the health visitor service often told us that they felt supported and reassured. They told us that they felt listened to and that their questions were answered. They appreciated when the health visitor was knowledgeable and when advice was tailored to their individual situation such as for infant feeding.

Based on our findings we made recommendations around:

Improving communication with families around the options available for health visitor services

The need for home visits for babies to continue

More regular contact with families

Attending baby and toddler groups or drop-in sessions

Improving communication and experiences of milestone questionnaires offered

Exploring the current resourcing of the health visitor service.


You can find out more by downloading the full report.

Zoom or phone calls are not enough. People need to feel they can have a chat with a health visitor in person.

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