So what is the point of Health Visitors?

(431 Posts)
wonderstuff Mon 18-Oct-10 14:43:55

I've seen 3 so far, they all seem very nice, but really not very useful.

Today lovely lady came by, did PND questionnaire, weighed my baby. Talked about weaning - advised that some babies (especially boys) are ready for weaning at 4 months, to be aware of him taking interest in us eating hmm couldn't give any advise about BLW as no reseach has been done and she doesn't want to get sued - fair enough, but seemed strange that on the weaning age she was willing to contradict research evidence. She also warned of 'missing weaning window at 6 months' I didn't ask what would happen - will I end up bfeeding forever, Little Britain style? Told me breastfeeding was tiring (there was me thinking it was the lack of sleep that was knackering but presumbably if I bottle fed I'd have much more energy?) She stayed for half an hour.

Really what is the point - could money be better spend on Midwifery or Social care?

JustDoMyLippyThenWeWillGo Mon 18-Oct-10 14:45:59

They are, in my experience, completely pointlessgrin.

escorchio Mon 18-Oct-10 14:48:34

In my experience they exist simply to point out any inadequacies you may have that your mother might have forgotten to mention..... grin

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 14:48:49

My HV's (there are 2 at my Drs) have both been absolutely fabulous. One came once a week and just say with me, for 1/2hr for a couple of weeks when I was at my lowest 2yrs ago.

The other one came told me that my previous (in a different town) didn't know what she was talking about and that there was nothing wrong with DS1's speech but she would see me just to keep the paperwork in order, and gave me good advise and support for getting DS3 back to settling himself to sleep at night.

And a whole host of other helpful/supportive stuff.

perfumedlife Mon 18-Oct-10 14:50:02

No idea either. They came to me, drank tea, lectured me and then left, without seeing the baby hmm

retiredgoth2 Mon 18-Oct-10 14:51:08

What indeed.

It is quite difficult to get into. But cushy in the extreme once you are there.

I think their main role is to drink bad coffee and eat cake whilst complaining about their workload....

wonderstuff Mon 18-Oct-10 14:52:14

I did think it seemed like a lovely job..

nymphadora Mon 18-Oct-10 14:53:03

I had a v good one with dd1/2 who was v supportive and quite enthusiastic about some of my views which weren't common in my area at the time (bfeeding beyond 1/reusuable nappies!). I had PND and she visited me at home & listened to me. celebrated when I was pg with dd2 supported me through a difficult pg and visited me on the ward when she was born & I was ill. She then got pg and I got a new one who was rubbish and tried to do new baby checks on dd2 (2) and refused a 2 y assessment despite her difficulties.

Get new one tomorrow for dd3 - am nervous!

nickytwotimes Mon 18-Oct-10 14:54:31

I've been lucky - all mine have been fab, which is more than I can say for the GPs.

My first 2 (when I had ds1) saved my mental health with their support and non-judgey advice.
My current one is great - very knowledgable about bfing and very very pro - BLW.

Indith Mon 18-Oct-10 14:54:45

If you are happy and have no problems then you may well not see the point.

On the other hand,a sympathetic HV may be the one to end up with tears all over her from a new mum and help her with PND when she would never have considered going to the Dr. A HV doing her first visit may see that things are not as they should be at home and can help a child or mother at risk. Things which simply would not be seen otherwise since MW appointments do not tend to happen in the home. There are plenty of other things too.

MistsAndMellow Mon 18-Oct-10 14:55:10

Let the HV fill in the red book even when it is obvious that a bright five year old could plot the lines on the graphs. It keeps them off the streets after all.

lenak Mon 18-Oct-10 14:56:09

I had one lovely sensible one and one complete nightmare.

When I went in for a check after DD had her first jab she proceeded to lecture me on how I shouldn't take her swimming until she'd had the full course - despite the fact that I still had the leaflet in my hand that my lovely practice nurse had given me stating it was absolutely fine to go swimming hmm.

She wasn't best pleased when I called her up on it.

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 14:56:40

I think I may have to have another baby just so I can keep seeing my HV's for a little longer grin

Although I haven't seen any of them since the end of last year when one arranged to come out and see me at the request of the GP after they realised that SS were involved because of what happened with exH (initial assessment of the DS's invovlved writing to GP).

She came out to check I was coping ok

MistsAndMellow Mon 18-Oct-10 15:01:53

Is it still true that HV don't have any requirement to update their professional knowledge? I was shock at that a couple of years ago in the context of weaning at 4 months and breastfeeding myths.

Funnily enough I was approached by a professional the other week who wanted to observe DS (autistic) with a view to training other HVs to recognise red flags and I almost bit her hand off in thanks given how generally crap they usually are at recognising them.

BuntyPenfold Mon 18-Oct-10 15:13:55

Mine was awful and rubbished everything I was trying to do, including breastfeeding.
She said I should rest more, well, I had a 4-year old and no family nearby, but I should have thought of resting more. Silly me.
She rubbished my quite correct claims that my DD could not see very well; told me I was wrong, she was the qualified one not me etc.
Well, she was wrong and my DD's eyesight worsened all the time it was not treated. Her fault.
I suppose some people are luckier in who they get.

ArmyBarmyMummy Mon 18-Oct-10 15:29:00

My HV is lovely, unfortunately MIL is retired HV who is not helpful by being very free with contadictary advice!

I kinda understand and bite my tongue as I'm a 'retired' pharmacist (no longer paying megga bucks to stay on register) but still can't resist ploughing in with both size 9 feet when I feel someone doesn't understand a pharmaceutical issue. I do (or at least try to) make sure people seek current recommendations tho'.

So that said... If u don't like ur HV/GP/midwife/whoever seek advice from another HP (health professional) u trust, remembering YOU are the expert on YOUR baby.

Vallhalloween Mon 18-Oct-10 15:32:06

The point of HV's? Pass. No idea.

I dispensed with their visits very early on in DD1's life before I committed homicide.


withorwithoutyou Mon 18-Oct-10 15:32:14

I always thought they were basically there to come and give you and your home a once-over in case you needed to be brought to the attention of social services.

LittlebearH Mon 18-Oct-10 15:38:36

Mine kept telling me to FF as my baby must be hungry as not sleeping through.

Also that if she didnt gain more weight she would refer her to my GP.

At 8 months she is weaned, eats loads, no longer BF and still does not sleep through, yet happily on 25th percentile.

I think they are obsessed about that graph.

All they did was feed my anxiety problem.

warthog Mon 18-Oct-10 15:41:06

i don't know. didn't even have one for dd2.

i hope i don't get one for dc3.

KristinaM Mon 18-Oct-10 15:48:05

I have no idea either

And I have five children

The only time I asked for advice about a bf problem they were useless and actually made things worse

They are both very pleasant though, just not sure the NHS can afford pleasant uninformed busybodies on the payroll

tiktok Mon 18-Oct-10 15:48:08

My experience is very mixed. Some of them are particularly shaky on bf and weaning knowledge.

wonderstuff - you are dead right in that everything she has told you about feeding is poor. There is no evidence that boys are generally readier for weaning than girls (or if there is evidence, I'd like to see it). It is utterly shocking she cannot even discuss BLW...for fear of being sued, WTF??? The 'window for weaning' is totally discredited. And has been for many years.

If you felt able, you could write a puzzled letter to your PCT.

EauRouge Mon 18-Oct-10 15:48:41

I had a lovely HV when I had DD, she had loads of common sense and great advice but she left and has now been replaced with a rubbish HV with a weird cow's milk obsession. I probably shan't bother taking DC2 to the weekly clinic unless I am worried about something.

PutTheKettleOn Mon 18-Oct-10 15:56:09

grin at escorchio.

I've seen some rubbish ones in my time but all the ones I've seen with DD2 have been fab - very supportive of BF, entertained DD1 while I was dealing with the baby.

I think it's very hit and miss but the good ones are worth their weight in gold.

Lulumaam Mon 18-Oct-10 15:59:54

like so many professions , thre are good and bad

i reckon like pretty much the entire NHS, there are lack of good ones, everyone is overstretched and there are not enough to go around

i had a terrible, awful one with DC1, who missed my PND, did not do the Edinburgh test as i was feeling low and wanted to wait til i felt better hmm cue 4 years of the worst, most horrific black depression i've experienced. cheers for that

countered by the totally amazing lovely gorgeous one i had with DC2 who supported me so well during the pregnancy and after, and i cried a bit after our pre school jab appt as i would not be seeing her again. she came to see me every week and stayed to talk and chat and have a brew and keep my chin up

wonderful, saintly woman.

MenorcaFan Mon 18-Oct-10 16:01:15

YANBU - mine was useless.

After 7 days and nights of NO sleep trying and failing to breastfeed, at the end of my tether, we asked her to give us advice about bottle feeding instead. (I'd intended solely to BF, so didnt know the first thing about formula / sterilising etc).

She told me she was not allowed to discuss bottle feeding with new mums, so sorry she couldnt help me!

What kind of help or advice is that exactly?

Useless cow and useless bloody do-gooders!

ThePumpkinofDoomandTotalChaos Mon 18-Oct-10 16:04:03

surely it's not terribly cushy though all the time, as don't they all have to do child protection visits?

my experiences were mixed, and mostly negative I'm afraid. I reckon my HV's brand of "support" in recovering from antenatal depression helped tipped me into mild PND....

I tend to agree with withorwithoutyou. I refused to have anything to do with mine after she told me she had to do a home visit (which, because of moving, was very inconvenient for me) in order to check my home "was safe for the children". So I told her with an attitude like that she wasn't coming anywhere near my house.

I'm pretty confident, and I didn't suffer from PND so probably wouldn't have benefited much. Still, I was very disappointed as I think the idea of HVs is really good. I would have liked to have another pair of eyes on development and milestones just in case. But I think professionally there is an inherent contradiction between assuming that all parents need to be "checked" to make sure they are good enough and providing a truly supportive service. You can't (shouldn't?) really be honest with someone who is there in part to judge you.

MistsAndMellow Mon 18-Oct-10 16:20:30

I had to ask for reassurance from a HV who had wandering eyes about my son's lack of eye contact.

I was advised to do it by his pre-school teacher because in conjunction with the other red flags for autism he was presenting with, we were very concerned.

It was excruciating. And I had to report back that the HV couldn't "see" any problem with his eye-contact <cringe>

Tee2072 Mon 18-Oct-10 16:21:49

Well, my HV runs my GP's baby clinic and does all jabs. So without her I just my son wouldn't be immunized? confused

Tee2072 Mon 18-Oct-10 16:22:39

Soyyy, I guess my son...

FindingMyMojo Mon 18-Oct-10 16:32:30

I think they are there to make sure the mother knows a little bit about what to do in the first week (doing OK thanks), check for retreating uterus (cheers), weigh the baby a couple of times, & dish out the mystery NHS 'vitamin drops' for babies - which I read about everywhere but my HV knew nothing about.

Oh & they did some quite nice baby massage classes too which DD & I enjoyed.

nymphadora Mon 18-Oct-10 16:50:56

Lots of childrens services referrals come via HV too. Some may be OTT but some are seriously in need families.

emmy5 Mon 18-Oct-10 16:52:31

My mum was a HV for 25 years (now retired). As well as giving immunisations and doing the weigh ins, she also offered help and support to women with violent partners, sourced bedding, furniture and clothes for people who had none for their babies and attended court in child protection cases. She was regularly late home - sometimes trying for hours to find emergency accommodation for people. Often people won't seek help and by visiting them at home, problems can be identified. Appreciate for the majority of people, a HV is completely unnecessary but there's no way of telling without visiting everyone. They are trained nurses who have undertaken further training to become HVs.

littlemisstax Mon 18-Oct-10 17:51:54

I'm 36 weeks pregnant with DC1 and the HV is coming to see me later this week to "give me baby's healthcare record" - I'm guessing that this is just an excuse to have a nose around the house as surely the red book could be either posted or given to us at the hospital when baby is born?

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 18:02:30

I have a sneaky feeling that all the good ones go to areas where they are actually needed, and the lazy/rubbish ones make sure they get the 'nice middleclass areas' where they just have to listen to those mothers who already know everything there is to know about being up baby.

During my nursing degree I worked with one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. She was a health visitor in the dodgy area of Cardiff, and consistently made a difference to each and every family she worked with.

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 18:09:23

plus - how does that work then - sending them to where they are needed?

How do they know which mothers are going to suffer from PND, or go through a crisis where the HV will turn out to be a godsend?

I can assure you I've never lived in a dodgy area and I definitely appreciated the support fo my HV

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 18:17:39

When do they start coming round to your house?
Do you have any choice about when they turn up?
Can you refuse to see a HV?

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 18:18:06

I don't think that they get sent, but the (I think) PCT will advertise positions, and you would apply accordingly to the area. People tend to have an idea which are the slightly needier areas of towns and cities.

I was thinking of retraining as a HV - currently work in PICU, so the idea of advising people who feel they know it all already just doesn't appeal. There is an awful amount of child protection work attached to HV nowadays and I'm not sure I'm up to it tbh.

ThePumpkinofDoomandTotalChaos Mon 18-Oct-10 18:18:26

in my city, more experienced ones were sent to more challenging areas, so the newly qualified ones got more straightforward caseloads. one let slip that the city centre caseload was regarded as a bit of a nightmare biscuit.

ThePumpkinofDoomandTotalChaos Mon 18-Oct-10 18:19:54

plus3 - what about training as an SN HV? that might be a bit more satisfying.

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 18:20:21

well our GP's take patients from all over the town (as do all the other GP's in town) . I'm not in a dodgy area or a posh area, but I know people in both those types of housing who have the same GP practice as me.

And some of the out lying villages which are also under our town GP practices are definitely posh grin

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 18:22:13

I'm not saying the only good ones are attached to dodgy areas, but as with all profession, people can get complacent and lazy, and should always be updating their knowledge.

My HV with my Ds was fab, but I still had to tell her the growth chart were based on bottle, not breast fed babies!!!!

I think that keeping yourself updates with little time and finace to do so must be hard (not justified, but hard)

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 18:24:17

SN HV???? That could be very interesting......

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 18:26:34

Do you have to let a HV in your house? Why? When do they come? Do they make appointments or just turn up?

I dunno. I'm 32 weeks pg with DC1, I'm aged 39, and I feel a bit funny about 'having' to let someone in to 'check on me'. If I need help I will ask for it. I know where to get help. I am not daft.

It will be Christmastime when I have my baby. I expect it will be just me and DH and the baby cuddled up at home, but I might have visitors, or we might go and stay with family/friends, we haven't decided yet, it depends on when the baby comes, etc.

I don't really want to have to factor obligatory visits from a stranger into my plans, tbh. Can I just say no thanks?

Miffster in most areas they make a pre-birth visit (they should arrange the timing with you). The schedule after seems to be very dependent on the area and whether they see you as high need.

You do not have to have anything to do with them if you don't want. But the good ones ought to be really useful if you are uncertain about what you should be doing or if you end up getting PND.

If you're as bloody minded as me and don't want them in your house you can always go to your local baby clinic and see one there. Not as convenient in the first few weeks, and if you do end up having PND, probably another thing to get in the way of getting help.

memoo Mon 18-Oct-10 18:32:15

Plus3, the area a person lives in has absolutely no bearing on their ability to be a parent!

memoo Mon 18-Oct-10 18:33:23

"dodgy areas"?? Sorry but what do you mean? Are you implying that living in a poorer area makes you a crap parent?

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 18:33:56

Oh, I've just seen this AIMS link.

HVs have no legal right of entry, I see. But AIMs is saying that refusal to see them ( even a polite, no thanks, I'm fine, don't need help' is a red flag for HV informing SS!)

I'm really shock about this.
It's my house, my body, my baby. I know where to get help, I don't see why I should have to see anyone or let anyone in my house if I don't want to have them round. .

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 18:38:20

X posted before I read SuchProspects,
thanks for that info.

But if I have PND I will make appointment with my GP, who I know or with a counsellor, who I also know.

I would be very unlikely to unburden myself to a random stranger, who is there to judge me and my house in the exhausting first few weeks of motherhood, and I think I really will not want the stress of having my home inspected when I am tired and busy with the baby. It's just an extra pressure.

I think I will just say no thanks to the HV visits. I will have my DH there to help me, he is taking 6 weeks off to be at my side.

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 18:46:02

Miffster - if you have PND (or even "just" depression - you may well NOT make an appointment to see the GP, especially if it's not yet been diagnosed, or if you need extra support - that's the point.

They're not there to judge you, they're there to help you and in MOST cases if you need the help they'll be able to give it.

wonderstuff Mon 18-Oct-10 18:49:47

To be fair I have never felt a HV was checking up or judging my house. The HV who did my pre-visit said she had never in 20 years made a referal to SS without discussing with the mother.

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 18:54:56

oh god my HV had to climb over the mess on the floor and dump some extra stuff on the floor (off the sofa) just to sit down with me 2 years ago blush

She didn't bat an eyelid smile

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 18:57:58

MaMoTTaT - no, I will self-refer. I've done it before when I had PTSD after a life threatening event. I know the signs of PND because I have had PTSD before. So does my DH.

I'd rather not feel obliged to have someone round my house after I've just had a baby, to have to wait about for them, or tidy up for them, or have tea with them, or answer their questions. It is likely to wind me up enormously and be an extra pressure.

If I need help, I really do know where to get help. If I point this out, it ought to be accepted and I ought to be left alone, surely?

cakewench Mon 18-Oct-10 18:58:54

What? They aren't allowed to discuss formula feeding, even when directly asked by a new mum? I thought they were able to do so when asked? (ie, not to promote it themselves, but to answer the question properly if it's posed to them)

As someone who was eventually able to successfully BF (and did so for 1+ year- only saying this to head off people assuming I've got some pro-FF agenda here!) that is SHOCKING. Surely the point is to make sure the baby is healthy. Why would you leave someone to sort out formula feeds for themselves, when there are so many things to learn about sterilising, proper temperature and whatnot (okay I know nothing but that's my point!) From what I recall from my antenatal classes, you can't even go by what your mum might tell you because the formula is different now.

What the hell is the point of having this person in the house if she isn't going to actually help?

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:00:35

Another great thread about HVs keep going girls and soon there will be no more out there.
Hooray ! You might all say because some of you dont need them.
But think about it. Every new baby in the country has an assessment by a HV. This picks up on those living in awful houses,drug addicts,violence and just horrible abusive parents who shouldnt have a pet let alone a baby.
Majority of referrals for under 5s to social services are from HVs. Who would pick up on these children?
Ive got a caseload of 500 families inner city,waiting on 4 court cases and know my intervention saved 2 babies lives this year.
But all Hvs are crap arent they?

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:04:55

Memoo I wasn't suggesting that at all. But the area of Cardiff that I did my HV placement in had alot of issues with social housing, money issues, repeated hospital admissions for the children with respiratory diseases, social isolation for women who didn't have english as a first language... I could go on. I am not suggesting that these people were in any way bad parents, but they had (perhaps) bigger challenges facing them then wondering when to start weaning.

tiredemma Mon 18-Oct-10 19:07:18

I had a wonderful HV for both my boys, and I was fortunate to have her as a mentor when I was a student nurse. It always grates on me when I see negative sweeping generalisations on here about HV's. This team worked in a very deprived area with a challenging caseload.

I think for those that need some support in the early years, they can be a Godsend.

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 19:08:04

So because some people are at risk, everyone has to have visits and get checked out? Why? That seems like a massive waste of resources.

samay Mon 18-Oct-10 19:10:32

Message withdrawn

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:11:22

Miffster, most parents will get a new birth visit and then invited to a clinic with Hv phone number if need extra advise. This is the core HV service in our area. Is it really that intrusive ?

samay Mon 18-Oct-10 19:15:00

Message withdrawn

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 19:17:35

I don't know why I am having such a strong reaction to the idea that I have to let a stranger into my house to check me and my baby out, but I am. I am quite happy to take the baby (and myself) to the GP for checks. having made an appointment.

That seems to be a way of having appropriate boundaries and everyone knowing where they stand.

I am just not cool about the idea that, aged 39, having recently given birth, with a 42 year old DH, both of us professionals, used to our own space and to being responsible adults who can make tough decisions and access help when needed, I suddenly have to let a stranger into my home to 'inspect' me and the baby and to 'give me advice' ( which I have not asked for) and to ask me questions.

It just feels all wrong.

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:18:21

Samay- clearly one off the planet!
Cant understand why she would do that.Theres always odd people in all jobs unfortunately.

samay Mon 18-Oct-10 19:19:47

Message withdrawn

HappySeven Mon 18-Oct-10 19:22:08

I know there are some good ones out there but sadly some poor ones give the others a bad name. My first one kept insisting I wasn't bonding with my son and I feel contributed to my PND with her comments.

With my second HV my dd wasn't on the weight chart and I was told that she might be if we used the new charts based on breastfed babies. I said I'd downloaded a copy and she was still off the bottom and the HV said she hadn't actually seen one. I just found it sad that she hadn't even googled them to find a copy and have a look at one as surely it was relevant to her job.

Don't give up, jaffacake2, I'm sure you're advise is invaluable and know my sister has found her HV brilliant and very supportive.

Miffster - that was exactly my reaction!

The article you linked to is 6 years old. As far as I'm aware, and I did a lot of reading about it, it is not common practice for HVs to report people to SS just because they were refused entry. And if it make your feel any better, I certainly haven't heard anything more about it since I told them they couldn't visit last year.

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:22:57

Miffster- did you feel the same about visits from community midwives?

HappySeven Mon 18-Oct-10 19:24:01

Aargh!! "your advice" not "you're advise"! Shouldn't type while distracted!

samay Mon 18-Oct-10 19:24:59

Message withdrawn

allmychoicesaretaken Mon 18-Oct-10 19:26:34

Miffster - I take it you will be refusing the midwives access to your home post delivery as well?

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:27:30

Samay- just decline the service it really wont be a problem,you clearly have resources to access private paediatrician and dont need an HV.

nameymcnamechange Mon 18-Oct-10 19:27:47

I saw a great, supportive HV after I'd had ds (my second child). I took him to the baby clinic to get him weighed at 4 weeks and she spotted that I was feeling like shite over his colic, put her arms round me and let me have a little weep and came to visit me at home the following week. I can't remember how the conversation went.

I have full middle class older mum in a good area very well clued up about childcare credentials, but the emotional support she offered me on those two occasions were most gratefully received and I did not go on to develop pnd.

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 19:27:48

I'm wondering why I am so wound up about 'intrusive' HVs coming into my home and asking me q's.

Maybe it is because I am 32 weeks pregnant and defensive of my territory.

Maybe it is because I am older, used to being an adult and not having my decisions questioned, and not needing to accept 'help' and 'advice' and just getting on with things.

Maybe it is because I am used to solving my own problems and accessing my own help and getting my own needs met.

Maybe it is because when I truthfully told a midwife I'd had PTSD in the past, for entirely non-pregnancy related reasons, (a life-threatening incident several years ago where lots of people travelling with me on a train were badly injured and some died) - she referred me to the mental health services! And I had to go through a ridiculously long interview and answer all sorts of pointless personal questions, which was a complete waste of everyone's time.

The last thing I want, after that, is a judging stranger in my home asking me questions. I've learned my lesson and that is why I do not want a HV in my home.

I want my boundaries respected and pregnancy and new parenthood seem to be a time when that often doesn't happen.

Hmmm, I think I had better leave the thread.

Miffster Mon 18-Oct-10 19:29:36

Thanks for the advice though, sorry to hijack it a bit with my personal space/boundaries issues!

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 19:34:08

Miffster- hope all goes well for you and if you ever need to phone or visit the clinic please try it. It might be positive after all. Good luck.

The midwives came round every couple of days after the birth, so having the hv come once they'd handed over to her wasn't a big deal for me. I didn't feel any more checked up on by her than by the midwives.

allmychoicesaretaken Mon 18-Oct-10 19:36:28

Miffster - it will all be fine - honestly. I am a HV and yes there are good and bad. Some of the stories on here make me cringe, I go into work and tell my colleagues and they cringe as well. You can refuse the service - no problem. That can sometimes be a red flag that there may be issues within the home which families may want to keep hidden but not usually. We are not there to judge you but to offer practical and emotional support.

DialMforMother Mon 18-Oct-10 19:43:36

A hv told me that 'babies need to cry as it strengthens their lungs'. This was in June, not in 1952. I'm not sure why breathing isn't strengthening their lungs or what lung related activities dd is supposed to be in training for.

spongecakelover Mon 18-Oct-10 19:50:03

I've seen more unhelpful ones than good ones. Finally found a good one with DS2 and stuck to her clinics like a stalker. She didn't refer us to paeds for ages when he wasn't gaining weight much - she trusted me and just gave good advice so we'd explored every eating avenue possible before we took it further. That meant a lot.

Guacamole Mon 18-Oct-10 19:51:50

I quite liked the one who came and visited when DS was 10 days old. She asked if I'd had breakfast (it was 11am, I hadn't, she told my husband to immediately go make me some breakfast and a cup of tea).
She then lectured him about how tiring being a new Mum was and what thirsty work breastfeeding was and that he was to make me drinks when I was thirsty, make me a packed lunch before he went to work, in case I didn't get the chance to make myself anything etc... He did, he was already supportive but suddenly he would just do or offer without be prompted.
The one I see for weigh ins always makes me feel like a terrible mother, I weaned at 4.5 months on her recommendation, DS went from just above 50th percentile to just below and she terrified me (I have guilt issues re weight because DS lost 15% birthweight because my milk hadn't come in, I didn't know, I'd never breastfed before and we ended up in SCBU). She only has to mention weight and I'm racked with guilt!

MaMoTTaT Mon 18-Oct-10 19:52:35

I'm glad that you were able to self refer, I wasn't. It was a friend calling my HV - who then came to see me, that eventually made me see the GP.

She was also a great source of support last year when I'd have a life changing event and came to check I was ok. At that time I was, in terms of depression, but it was good to have someone totally neutral to my situation who would listen to me ramble on about it for a little while and tell her how I was coping (or not) with the DS's at that time.

Concordia Mon 18-Oct-10 19:55:44

our health visitors have really varied, from worse than useless to lovely
one was great when i was feeling down after DC2 - sinaed in west yorkshire - thank you!! i wish the support with DC1's feeding had been half as good though. they could measure his weight loss but as none of their suggestions actually helped i think the measuring in itself was counterproductive.

mamatomany Mon 18-Oct-10 19:57:08

Mine told me my older 22 month old child was far too demanding and you don't want the next one like her do you ? Up until that point i'd been really enjoying my 2 girls, i then completely turned off both them for the next 12 months.
They really should have extra training on how to keep their feet out of their mouths.
Having said that this time around the HV hardly said a word but had a leaflet for every situation you could imagine.

Tokyotwist Mon 18-Oct-10 20:03:04

The point of HVs...

They take the pressure of GPs for minor stuff.

They spot potentially major stuff.

Just plain support for first time mothers (especially those of us whose own mothers lived miles away).

They are trained to spot PND in mums and if they're good they'll be encouraging new mums to go out and meet other new mums.

But like with all professions I guess it depends who you get.

I saw quite a few but one or two stood out. One in particular who was also a nurse. Maybe all nurses should do a stint as a HV. Then again I'm sure nurses have enough to do already.

3WiseMumsies Mon 18-Oct-10 20:11:28

Thank goodness so many of you don't need your HVs, it'll free them up for families that really do need someone to come and help, advise and support them.

The vast majority of GPs would rather eat their own stethoscopes than run a twice weekly baby clinic(4 in the case of my team) and very often will refer you back to your health visitor if you come to them with minor(and sometimes more major) childhood problems. We see an average of about 80-90 babies a week in our clinics, they aren't forced to come, they choose to and more often than not they go away reassured and better informed on what is considered the current best practise where their babies health is concerned. Why would you not want to take advantage of the service that is offered to you? You pay your taxes, get your moneys worth, access the services that are there for you.

You are wrong to rubbish them like this, it is a skewed view and is unhelpful to those who have no experience of the health visiting service.

reallytired Mon 18-Oct-10 20:17:43

jaffacake2, I think that health visitors are wonderful people. (Well... mostly grin )

I have a lovely health visitor at the moment, I am devestated by the news that she is retiring next year. [sob! emoticon]

The health visitor I had with my son, was a nice lady, but got out of her depth with me. I had really severe postnatal depression (Ie. having delusions and needing interesting medication) and my health visitor did not refer me to correct source of support. I needed a CPN and got referred to a support group run by a local health visitor instead. The hv mistake was a massive disaster for my famiy.

However health visitors are human. They make mistakes as they do a difficult job. Society's expectations of them is completely unrealistic. Its a pity that health visitors do not stand up for themselves as a profession a bit more.

"did not do the Edinburgh test as i was feeling low and wanted to wait til i felt better"
Did she really not spot the flaw in that plan shock

3WiseMumsies I did want to take advantage of a service my tax money pays for. It would have been great if the health visitor actually thought her role was to support me instead of check up on my fitness to have children and tick boxes. I only rubbish the experience I had because it was rubbish.

3WiseMumsies I did want to take advantage of a service my tax money pays for. It would have been great if the health visitor actually thought her role was to support me instead of check up on my fitness to have children and tick boxes. I only rubbish the experience I had because it was rubbish.

3WiseMumsies Mon 18-Oct-10 20:28:31

Thank goodness so many of you don't need your HVs, it'll free them up for families that really do need someone to come and help, advise and support them.

The vast majority of GPs would rather eat their own stethoscopes than run a twice weekly baby clinic(4 in the case of my team) and very often will refer you back to your health visitor if you come to them with minor(and sometimes more major) childhood problems. We see an average of about 80-90 babies a week in our clinics, they aren't forced to come, they choose to and more often than not they go away reassured and better informed on what is considered the current best practise where their babies health is concerned. Why would you not want to take advantage of the service that is offered to you? You pay your taxes, get your moneys worth, access the services that are there for you.

You are wrong to rubbish them like this, it is a skewed view and is unhelpful to those who have no experience of the health visiting service.

Sorry about the double post

reallytired Mon 18-Oct-10 20:36:33

Probably only 20% of mothers need a health visitor, but there is no way of telling which 20%. Postnatal depression can hit good mothers as well as bad mothers. Being an over perfectionist can be a disaster for mental health.

We are lucky having health visitors in this country. I would hate to be like the USA where children and mothers are over medicalised.

mamatomany Mon 18-Oct-10 20:47:25

I think we do need HV, no doubt about it but we need them to be coming from midwifery rather than nursing backgrounds.
My cousin was a HV and had never held a baby even after she'd been in the role 12 months, she had no idea about childcare beyond what she'd read in a book.

emmy5 Mon 18-Oct-10 20:47:31

Agree with 3wisemummies, the drop in baby clinic run by the HVs in our area was always packed. Don't think my GP would not want to know about my baby crying a lot, not bringing up wind, not eating lumpy food. All of which the HV gave me practical advice and reassurance on. I saw two HVs and they were both invaluable to me.

otchayaniye Mon 18-Oct-10 20:50:59

What are they? Never had one. I do hear about them, wonder if I'm missing out....

animula Mon 18-Oct-10 20:55:20

I'm grateful to my HVs. The first one calmed me down, and gave me the super advice of buying an answerphone to intercept my (very anxious) mother's 'phone calls.

The second one gave me a big hug, and I didn't see her again. We were in an area that was very stretched, and she was correct in her assessment that it was all OK.

Perhaps I've been very fortunate, but mine certainly did a great job, and I was glad of them.

Tori27 Mon 18-Oct-10 21:03:04

I'm now feeling guilty - was I supposed to make HV tea when she came? No longer she didn't stay long? Lol!

1st HV was rubbish and really strict about waiting til 6 months for weaning. DD was a very hungry baby and only content once on solids - which I did at 4 months and a day! I didn't see HV after that until 8 months when I was called in the the surgery. New HV was lovely but pointless.

Probably helpful if you don't speak to your mum and don't have friend's with babies!

Lulumaam Mon 18-Oct-10 21:07:07

SHRIIIEEEKPoolingBearBlood Mon 18-Oct-10 20:22:24

"did not do the Edinburgh test as i was feeling low and wanted to wait til i felt better"
Did she really not spot the flaw in that plan shock

you'd have thought so, but she was weeks away from retiring and i think she could not care less. she could have prevented literally years of anguish if she'd have just thought through what she was doing. granted, other HCPs did not pick up on it, but she was frontline.

i am glad she retired .

as i said though, my next HV with DD was saintly , and just amazing in every way

stressheaderic Mon 18-Oct-10 21:13:11

I've seen 2 in my home. One was a bit too keen to tow the party line and not stray from the standard practice within the borough, quoting the WHO verbatim, all a bit robotic really.

The other was much better, used her own common sense, and drew on her own recent experiences with her own children. Not sure this is strictly procedure, but I was grateful for the common sense advice, and just her general approach, saying "one thing you could try is..." rather than "yes, it's because you're not doing it right".

I asked one at baby clinic last month when 8mo DD was getting weighed about the small hard lump in her stomach and whether it was anything to worry about, could it be a hernia, and she said "oh yes it is quite prominent isn't it, I've no idea though, perhaps ask your GP?" hmm

fedupofnamechanging Mon 18-Oct-10 21:15:14

When I had my 4th baby,I had recently moved to a new area so didn't know any of the HVs.
When my HV came out to do a home visit she made me feel quite uncomfortable. Her behaviour was pretty intrusive and I felt like she was there to check I was a good mother and not there to be supportive.

By the time she left I felt stressed. That is not what a new mother needs. It's great that they look for signs of PND, but who is going to trust them in the future and be honest wrt how they are coping, when there is a perception that they are visiting your home to judge you and may report you to SS if they don't think you are up to the job?

I didn't have PND, but if I had, I would have been extemely reluctant to discuss it with my particular HV and would have gone to the GP instead.

babybarrister Mon 18-Oct-10 21:15:37

YANBU I deeply loathe mine as when I asked about hypo allergenic formula for DS at 2 months who had horrific bleeding excema which I believed to be a reaction to dairy [I was BF and formula feeding] they gave me NO information at all, just told me to up the boobs which was not possible as I was producing 1.5 litres a day [I measured it on expressing grin]- DS was was just really hungry. I am not sure if they were just BF nazis or genuinely ignorant to alternatives but I was absolutely desperate and got no help or sympathy at all. Of course DS has now been diagnosed with a long list of life threatening allergies including dairy - I told you so ..... angry

blueshoes Mon 18-Oct-10 21:18:53

For my first, the HV was clueless about bf-ing and gave me all sorts of misleading information (eg I need to eat more fattening food to improve the quality of my milk) and referred me to A&E when once she deemed my dd, who had a heart condition, was not putting on enough weight, where we waited for 4 hours to see a doctor who immediately sent us home, dd crying and stressed by it, not to mention her mother. All the time she was watching me like a hawk for PND.

By the time I had ds, I avoided HVs like the plague and simpered at their patronising advice, including on the sleep front, whilst counting the seconds till I could get out of the clinic.

I don't need to be patronised by health professionals who have their own prejudices and misconceptions about raising children. I tolerated HVs.

onceamai Mon 18-Oct-10 21:19:27

Well if mine had done what she was supposed to I might think there was a point. Inexperienced, inconsiderate, semi-literate and downright discourteous. Couldn't answer a single question in the context of evidence based research could only read leaflets out loud about such things as b/f and immunisation. Failed to find out information, failed to provide help about b/f when it was requested, failed to make a proper first appointment to visit me, failed to record information correctly. Expected me to sit in a grubby clinic on demand waiting for advice in which I had no faith. Find it rather strange that on the first visit she thought she could send a letter the day before received at 8.50 telling me she would arrive at 9. Arrived at 9.25 - surely she wasn't held up at a clinic. When breast feeding failed big time told me that B/F mothers put their babies first and F/F mothers put themselves first. When asked then for help with it told me to phone the NCT!! Totally pointless waste of time. Saw them twice with 1st child and refused to see them with second child and would never ever allow one into my home again. That was 15 years ago - still angry at the sheer incompetence and audicity of a so called service. Hope it is aboloished in Wednesday's spending review. Total waste of resources that provides a job creation scheme for nurses who don't want to lift sufficient fingers to nurse. Concluded very fast that if I had doubts about my baby's health or well being - you speak to a doctor. Also and the bit they don't tell you is that the HV is obliged to offer a visit you are NOT obliged to accept it. When they are literative, clean, properly trained and older than 25 and have children of their own might change me views. Still cross even now.

jaffacake2 Mon 18-Oct-10 21:31:21

OK you all win HVs are a waste of space should all be shot at dawn! Thinking of giving up anyway cant cope with ongoing child protection.
onceamai- I was a paediatric ITU sister but was horrified at some home situations children were discharged into. Thats why I chose to go into health visiting to try to address child poverty and poor parenting.
Many years on Ive just about had it.Baby P upset all but I see situations on a weekly basis which damage the emotionaland physical welfare of children.
Yes Im literate,clean shower daily to face sitting on urine soaked settees,older than 25,have brought up 2 girls by myself having left abusive husband.
But have decided tonight I have had enough. Job hunting tomorrow.sad

I don't think that jaffa. I've been involved with two, one was slightly old fashioned but ver supportive and reassuring when I was worried about DS's weight loss. She also made it very clear in a non patronising way that she was linked to SS, but she wasn't there to assess me, and that she wasn't expecting us to clean up for her visits. The other was in her 30s, having children at the same time as me and talked about how she co slept and gave fantastic advice (OK I didn't follow it but that was my fault )

Oh and the 2nd one has gone to be a HV for children with SN, the 1st is on sick and we are having floating ones from the area. Glad I am past the stage of visiting regularly

nameymcnamechange Mon 18-Oct-10 21:37:59

Jaffacake - I am sure it must be beyond discouraging for you to read this sort of guff. But you must appreciate that the real dimwittedness on this thread is being displayed by the people who have had a bad experience with a health visitor - and therefore think that all health visiting as a profession is pointless.

They are the ignorant fuckers, not you.

cory Mon 18-Oct-10 21:38:56

My HVs were great, spotted that dd wasn't feeding properly, did their best to support me with the breastfeeding, kept badgering me to take her to the doctor (where undernourishment was spotted), got the breastfeeding counsellor to come out. I had my head firmly stuck in the sand; they had the experience to see that things weren't right.

They also saw that I was on the verge of developing PND and managed to get me out of the house and to a new mums group which then stayed my support and social focus for many years.

And it was a HV who first flagged up concerns about dd's joints.

3WiseMumsies Mon 18-Oct-10 21:39:12

Your GP is an excellent port of call if you think you may be suffering from depression but he/she really won't give a crap and will be pissed off if you want a whole, precious, 10 minute appt each week to talk about weaning, possets and rashes. They're also highly unlikely to know about what's available locally for young families to do to have fun.

It's not a perfect service, it's stafffed by humans not robots, but there are 1000s(more, millions, billions) of families out there who are much, much better off for having had a health visitor available to them.

She does not visit you at home to judge you because you haven't brushed your hair that day or hoovered for the past week. She is there to assess whether you are coping and whether she can offer you extra support if you need it. She comes to your house because when your baby is 10 days old it is a LOT easier for her to come to you than it is for you to make it to an appointment with her, particularly if are feeling low and might actually need her. She is a trained professional who has the knowledge and contacts to put you in touch with all the relevant help you may need. She is not an HV because of the fab and pay and great working conditions, she is an HV because she gives a damn about you and your babies.

pumperspumpkin Mon 18-Oct-10 21:39:12

When the HV came to visit us for the first time when DD came home from hospital she was a lovely lady and no doubt meant well, but when checking over DD said "Hmmm - did the hospital say anything about her genitals?" me - "No...[pause] Should they have done?", HV "Oh well I'm sure it's ok really then" and refused to be drawn any further. I was in pieces until the 8 week check when the GP looked at me like I'd grown an extra head when I asked if everything was normal with her genitals. Yes.

onceamai Mon 18-Oct-10 21:46:09

Jaffa cake I'm sorry you feel like that but some of us are only relating the experiences we have faced. Don't you think the system should be more honest? If I'd been told at the time, HV's have x, y and z as their priority and you will get only five minutes of their time - that would have been fine. The fact was I was treated by the little madam on the one hand as though I was the equivalent of the families you have described and on the other as though I was an over privileged middle class mother who was not entitled to care. There were a lot of class related and political comments that could only have been intended to offend. On another thread you asked who would screen if the service was not offered to every mother -well surely the social questions asked by midwives could indicate a huge amount and surely the GP's 6 week check could incorporate the Edinburgh questions (apart from the fact that they should already know the family quite well in many cases and could alert hv's ss to those with problems) leaving HVs more free to deal with deprived families which as you say is why you went into it and I rather got the impression that mine had a political agenda to kick a middle class mother when she was very very down.

stressheaderic Mon 18-Oct-10 21:46:22

Excellent post, 3wise.

headinhands Mon 18-Oct-10 21:46:42

Have 4 dcs, never really saw the real value of HV's until my youngest had problems when he was 2. She came round every week for months for a chat and gave loads of fantastic advice which really helped. They're like airbags for want of a better description.

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 21:49:36

Jaffacake please don't quit sad

animula Mon 18-Oct-10 21:51:19

jaffacake - read my post! read my post! i loved my HVs. And one of my friends wanted to become an HV, for the same reasons you did.

fedupofnamechanging Mon 18-Oct-10 21:55:55

name I don't appreciate being referred to as an 'ignorant fucker' because I have been less than enamoured of my HV.

I am an intelligent woman and an experienced parent as are many of the people who have posted here.

The fact remains that women will be reluctant to seek help and advice from someone whose job, in part is to judge them. You must see that there is a conflict.

I am sure that many HVs are wonderfully supportive but if you want more people to post positive stories about their HVs, then as a profession they need to raise their game.

3WiseMumsies Mon 18-Oct-10 21:58:39

Thank you stresshead.

I get quite upset at these HV bashing threads and there are quite a lot of them. sad

I'm not an HV, it may have sounded like I am, but I do work with them and I see, 1st hand, everyday the difference made by them to those who need them.

Am leaving the thread now as feel like am bashing my head against a biased, HV hating wall.

onceamai Mon 18-Oct-10 22:03:11

Completely agreed Karmabeliever. As I have said in the past the difference between the HV and other provessonal advisers, is that if I appoint an accountant, lawyer, (or private physician for that matter) I do so on the basis of reputation and personal research. The HV is imposed upon women - even for maternity care women often have a choice of hospital, midwife led unit or even a private obstetrician if that's what they want. When a service is imposed and I am told I have to accept it, as far as I am concerned there is no room, no room at all, for error.

chitchat09 Mon 18-Oct-10 22:19:38

With DS1 my HVs were absolutely useless and just so condescending. I went to a Baby Cafe and the HVs there were lovely, but also quite useless when it came to assistance for me - my DS turned out to be lactose intolerant (temporary, grew out of it at 4 1/2 months) and was in a LOT of pain when breastfeeding. They said 'colic' and kept telling me to try gripe water and infacol...(um, yes I have, repeatedly, they don't help!). Then I found out about colief on the internet and tried it, and it helped a lot. Flaming SAME HV then says - oh yes, a lot of mums have success with that.... Well then why the flipping heck didn't you tell me that when I was trying to work out what to do for my son who was screaming blue murder whenever I fed him then and asked for your advice????!!!!! (And visiting ones not turning up when they were supposed to or even ringing, etc, etc)

But then with DS2 I had the most lovely HVs - different area, different clinic. They were so helpful and so non judgmental. I was quite sad when I didn't need to see them anymore!

I just wish there was a way of weeding out the awful ones. They really do give HVs a bad name.

plus3 Mon 18-Oct-10 22:22:15

The very simple fact is that the work load is expanding beyond their capabilities, they are not Drs so are not allowed to diagnose.

(sigh) there are huge inequalities within the NHS and the people it is trying to serve.

I was once shown a families 'pets' whilst my mentor was on a home visited - they were huge woodlouses living in the utterly damp children's bedroom. I have never seen anything like it.The mother was beside herself because she was supposed to bringing the baby home after being in hospital with broncholitis.Our next visit was to a more comfortably well off family who was cross and verbally abusive because we were 15 mins late.... Sometimes it's hard to prioritise.

Still, hopefully George will cut the service hey?

thefirstmrsDeVeerie Mon 18-Oct-10 22:29:53

I have had 5 kids over 18 years and feel that the role of HV has changed enourmously in that time.

With DD and DS1 I saw HV after the MW dischared me. MWs came round every day for about 12 days and then HV took over for a couple of weeks.

They were great. Some were a bit barmy but the nutty one turned up to visit DD in hosptial 12 years later when she was dx with cancer. She bought her a perfect present and chatted for ages. She knew exactly who we were. I was beyond touched. I dont always remember her name but then it pops into my head. Next time it does I am gonna google her smile

DS2 was a huge suprise. He came to live with us at 8 weeks with no warning. I really needed the local HVs but because I hadnt given birth they were all confused. Everytime I went to clinic they would read the first bit of the red book and treat me like sh*t because they thought I was the one who had neglected him. It was like a fecking farce. When I pointed out I was his new carer they attitude changed like magic! All this judging was done in the open plan cattle market clinic with everyone agog.

With DCs 4&5 I have had terrible experiences. I always post about them on here! Thank God I am experienced and pretty confident. One spent the whole appt grilling me about my late DD and ended the conversation with 'I bet you are really worried the others will get it [cancer] now arnt you?'

In short, a good HV is a gem to be cherished, a bad one is a fecking nightmare to be avoided at all costs.

mamatomany Mon 18-Oct-10 22:38:02

3WiseMumsies - Mine didn't ring to make an appointment until Ds was 5 weeks old by which time I could have made it to the clinic or whatever, she then proceeded to comment on the fact that due to a 6 year age gap i'd probably forgotten all about baby safeing the house, whilst casting her eye around it (we quite clearly were having building work done, which would be completed shortly ie the roof was off hmm). 4 kids, 5 different areas, 0 HV's with any tact, diplomacy or even anything helpful to say.
I don't believe for a moment they aren't going to be looking for what they consider to be mums in need of extra help but as I haven't heard from mine for 13 weeks now could be me but how would she know ?

cantthinkofagoodname Mon 18-Oct-10 22:49:20

As an aside, my baby is 7 months old and nobody has done the edinburgh screening thing with me. Should they have?

Nobody asked me about domestic violence when I was pregnant either (there isn't any btw!) but I thought everyone was supposed to be checked?

loveandpeace Mon 18-Oct-10 23:01:57

My Health visitor, I believe saved my life.

I come from a very middle class family and area and was totally prepared and looking forward to the birth of my first child. Unfortuately my mother suddenly died a week before she was born but I thought I was fine and carried on. My health visitor obviously realised otherwise and came round weekly. After a few weeks I had not bonded at all with my baby and spent hours driving around so I didn't have to spend time with her. I then spent time thinking of ways I could end my life.

I truly did not realise there was anything wrong and there was no way I would ever have seeked help.

My health visitor carried on coming round slowly made me realise what was going on encouraged me to get help and supported me for 18mths until I was totally better.

She took me to toddler groups and just gave me the support I was missing from not having my mother.

I hate to think what would have happened if she hadn't spotted what was going on, that is why we soooo need them.

Hopefully this story shows that it doesn't matter what area or background you come from things can go wrong and so different to how you expect.

Pleease support health visitors I strongly believe I wouldn't be here otherwise.

(maybe some need a little more training in some areas!!!!)

74claire Mon 18-Oct-10 23:19:51

My health visitors were lovely.

The first was supposed to see us on day 14 after DD1 was born. she was a casualty of SIDS in the early hours. Of course I had a houseful of police and concerned friends to deal with. So she left me a very sweet note, with a contact number and said to be in touch if I needed anything. She continued to drop by for a couple of months, which I was very grateful for, as the father had left weeks before birth.

She was still at work for DD2 and acted sensitively, when I was reluctant to bond in the early days. Her approach was always gentle and sensitive. Although her husband died at around the same time as DD's father did, she was able to pass on condolences to me. Over the years we have met in other roles and it is always a pleasure to see her.

The second HV was less gentle, but equally as well meaning . . . meeting me in the aftermath of a fatal accident probably hoiked me up to the top of their list again; but better that than slip under the radar. Although my mum lived 3 miles away, she does not deal with things in any practical sense and I was able to have more honest conversations with both HVs than ever with my mum.

onceamai Tue 19-Oct-10 08:33:08

Good, useful or not, the bit I still don't understand is why new mothers are not advised that the service is optional. There is no legal obligation at all to see a health visitor. I made a formal comlaint about my HV (who incidentally Jaffa Cake pushed me into six months of clinical pnd with her insensitive comments at a time when I was becoming very ill with infective mastitis and then a breast abscess) it resulted in the LA appointing its first bf counsellor on the basis that m/w's and h/v's had no business telling mothers they MUST breastfeed if they had no sensible or evidence based research on which to base their views. Shortly before 2nd child I wrote to the LA as previously agreed and confirmed that I would not accept a visit from a health visitor and had no wish to visit them in their clinics.

I did not have pnd with second child but by then I knew the system and even for the m/wives I made it very clear that I was prepared to see no more than 2 unlike the first time when 6 trailed through my home in 10 days dragging three students with them too.

There are good HV's but there are still far too many very poor ones and IMO it is time to take an objective decision - either those at risk get a proper service and Baby P's and all the others like him going back much further than Maria Colwell are provided with effective support or a great deal more money is put into it to provide a far higher quality of service for all mothers. I just think the service needs to be offered more realistically.

And, finally, 15 years on I still feel upset when I remember the first months with my ds and that could have been avoided if an experienced and sensible hv had turned up when he was 12 days old.

melikalikimaka Tue 19-Oct-10 08:39:02

When DS2 was just born, I asked her about DS1 constant bedwetting, she said that I shouldn't worry until he gets to 7 years old! I sorted it myself, bought an alarm system and cured him in 2 weeks. HV wouldn't supply this for another 2.5 years! Gobsmacked.

poobumfartbollocks Tue 19-Oct-10 09:23:29

I have had 4 kids and numerous HV's.

One was fab - still remember her telling me there was definitely something wrong with DD1 and to go and camp in the surgery and she would get her seen. I'd broken down on her and begged her to come out to see how DD1 fed, she was a nightmare. And the BF specialist midwife had come out the day before and reduced me to tears telling me there was "no clinical reason" why I couldn't successfully feed DD1 (who is DC3).

And I did cheer when my HV phoned me all gung ho to tell me (after DD1 had been diagnosed with multiple food intolerances) that she'd seen the BF Nazi woman in the corridor, and stopped her to say "Remember poobum, you told her that there was no reason for her not being able to feed DD1? Well......"

She was lovely.

The HV with DD2 however was about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

She had a son with SN and spent her whole time looking for problems. Cue many visits to paeds, specialists, till I went into the doctor and said "Look there is nothing wrong with DD2 is there?" He gave her a full once over, agreed with me, and said I didn't need to see the nutty HV ever again.

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 09:24:00

melika - that's perfectly common practice.

IF you'd gone to the GP it's extremely unlikely you'd have got a referral to the enuresis clinic before he was 7.

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 09:26:30

evne if your DS had already been 7 she would have told you to get an appointment with your GP to rule out any other causes, and then he would have referred you on to the clinic, who also probably wouldn't have supplied the alarm straight away before going through some other stuff first.

melikalikimaka Tue 19-Oct-10 09:36:29

Well, MaMoTTaT, I was sick of his bedroom stinking of piss. He was getting fed up of it, ashamed of himself and the constant showers he had to take. Tried everything before this, eg, not giving him drinks, getting him up in the night etc. I did it for him not so much for me. And I got it cheap from Boots (they don't do them anymore). Job done!

Me with a new baby and a little one who had just started school, wetting the bed, it was not fair on him.

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 09:54:12

well DS1 is 10 and still wets the bed (As does his best friend it transpired on the YR4 residential last term)

Getting him up in the night would have been one of the first things that the enuresis clinic would have told you to stop doing.

Glad the alarm worked for you - doesn't work for everyone - and certainly not that fast smile

melikalikimaka Tue 19-Oct-10 10:03:32

I didn't get any advice but stop giving him drinks after a certain time and making sure he goes for a wee before jumping into bed.

Great, that helped, NOT!
Believe me, it was a miracle before my eyes, and he was over the moon, it meant he could stay over with friends and relatives, with no worries. Try it!

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 10:06:20

That's because she's a health visitor - not a nurse working in the enuerisis clinic. Who in turn don't take children on until they're 7 for bed wetting issues because of how common it still is up to that age.

Do you think we haven't been given a an alarm to try????

melikalikimaka Tue 19-Oct-10 10:10:39

It says, if I can remember to give it 6 weeks trial, for a while it didn't seem to work, but come 2-2.5 weeks it suddenly kicked in. He was well on the way, can't you try it again and tell him its permanent. I think gradually it will work, everyone is different. He's 15 now and never looked back.

Look at it this way, what is the alternative?

they are a waste of nhs money in my opinion.
all mine have been useless,all missed 3 bouts of PND and all gave contradicting advice. weaning advise useless,every baby different!
one even told me not to be worried about a 1 year old still having a bottle before bedtime, her 3.5 year old twins had all their drinks from a bottle, whats that all about?

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 10:14:10

Although actually her initial advise was pretty much what we were given on our first visit to the clinic at 7yrs old.

Increase fluids during the day, last drink 1 1/2hrs before bed, wee-teeth-wee before bed and then help me sort his bed by stripping it. -

Then we we tried the alarm for a while, no improvement.

Then tried the desmo - no improvement.

Left it for a while to give DS1 a break

We do have an alarm at home again to try again - but on hold for now for numerous reasons

melikalikimaka Tue 19-Oct-10 10:24:16

MaMoTTaT please try again, but just put it out of your mind that it is a treatment. Make him understand it will be there until it cures him. I just looked up Desmo, and gladly didn't get that far. He just might respond now he's that bit older. My heart goes out to you.

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 11:31:49

melika - there's no need for sympathy (or a lecture). We are doing what is right for us as a family, and for DS1.

It's not about my feelngs on the subject - it's DS1's.

We are going to use the alarm again - just not right now.

melikalikimaka Tue 19-Oct-10 12:58:36

Do what ever is right for you, I'm not lecturing to anyone, just trying to help. confusedblush

TheJollyPirate Tue 19-Oct-10 13:11:48

As a HV myself I am NOT offended by these threads beyond being amazed there are not more of them.

Melika - the NHS advice is that we cannot access bed alarms for bedwetters until they are 7 - this is because a fair number of children still wet the bed naturally at that age (all to do with development and being developmentally ready) and many are not ready to be dry. This is not the same in all cases and for your DS it was evidently a deep sleep which was the issue and which the alarm cured.
In my area the HV does not deal with bedwetting but refers into a clinic - who will not take a referral unless the child is 7 as you discovered.
As a HV the large part of my work is spent being a surrogate social worker and following up families where there are serious child protection concerns. With over 800 families on our books and only 2 HV's the normal day to day stuff which we should be doing often gets left for the priority child protection stuff. I LOVE seeing new Mums and babies as it gives me a chance to catch up with the whole family. Likewise I have been able on occasion to drop everything for a Mum ringing me in tears (in one case I spent an hour pacifying a 4 week old so his Mum could have a much needed shower). My ability to be able to give this kind of support is very curtailed by my workload though and that's a shame as I would love to give much better support to families.

thefirstmrsDeVeerie Tue 19-Oct-10 13:28:46

Thats the problem IMO. Not enough HVs.

The good ones are swamped with Red Flag type situations and the crap ones get away with it because there is no one to replace them.

I think HV is at a low. IME it was great in the 80s/early 90s.

The HVs round her appear to be like their 1950s counterparts. Distant from their client group, distainful of their lifestyles and determined that they 'know best'.

That kind of attitude does not go down well in East London.

No one sees the HV or takes any notice of them. Quite a few really could do with a bit of help but they would rather burn their Uggs than listen to some stuck up know it all.

Its a shame.

MaMoTTaT Tue 19-Oct-10 13:31:46

No I won't do what's right for me - i'll do what's right for my DS smile

greenbeanie Tue 19-Oct-10 13:36:23

I am also a HV, I decided to train as my HV with dc1 was so appalling and I felt that I was in desperate need of support which she was unable to give.

I have worked with good and bad HV's, just like any profession. I think the main problem is lack of staff and huge caseloads often leading to things like PND not being picked up due to lack of time. The recommended caseload for a fulltime HV is 250 children, I work part time with a full time colleague and we have a caseload of 1200 children so much of our time is spent dealing with child protection. However, I do always ensure that clients have contact details and can ring at any time for a chat or to arrange a visit.

I know that when caseloads have been more manageable not only has it been a more enjoyable job but families have found the service far more useful. It is difficult to see what the purpose is when you see a HV so rarely.

samay Tue 19-Oct-10 14:29:41

Message withdrawn

nymphadora Tue 19-Oct-10 15:30:28

I met my new one this am. She was nice enough but no 'get up & go' about her. Once she found out what dh & I (Teacher /social care) do she seemed to think we'll be ok.BUT I'm high risk for PND and already been seeing the mental Health MW so I thought she would have been more interested in keeping an eye on me. Just told me when clinic was and suggested I get dd3 weighed next couple of weeks to ensure she is growing.

Good job dh & I are pretty confident that we can spot the depression now.

My HV has just left after my DDs 9 month check. She has been superb to me, really supportive when I was inthe first throes of PND. She phoned to check on me, gave me extra visits and never wore judgey pants at all. I'm obviously lucky!

TheJollyPirate Tue 19-Oct-10 16:05:12

Oh samay - THAT is a terrible reason to refer you to SS. Did the HV realise her service is not compulsory? Terrible.

Had my first visit from the health visitor (plus student) this morning. She was lovely, I felt we had time to chat and I've flagged issues with her that I haven't raised with the midwife, simply because I felt the HV could give me a little more time.

I can't judge beyond that, as I don't have a baby yet (due in 2 weeks, round here the HV likes to do the first visit pre-birth so you aren't overwhelmed with too much info when your baby arrives). However, I feel confident that I could ask the HV for support should I need it.

If a service isn't good enough, then the solution is to improve it, not ditch it.

ouryve Tue 19-Oct-10 16:19:55

I've had two with my boys. One was pretty meh, but the other has been absolutely brilliant. She obtained referrals for both of them when it became clear they had special needs and has always been good at listening and learning (and was totally supportive of delayed baby led weaning with DS2 and of extended breastfeeding) Even though the boys are both now school age, she still asks after them when she's doing her clinics at the Surestart attached to their school.

lucyspangle Tue 19-Oct-10 16:30:42

I have worked with several in professional and personal life-I used to be a solicitor working mainly in family law and was involved in children's hearing system-hvs are great- far from being in a 'cushy'job they are mainly working with vulnerable families and child protection.

Even in 'nice' areas I can guarentee you their caseload will contain a lot of domestic violence, vulnerable families and complex cases.When I was working in family law the HV reports and statements were essential in helping families.

The ones I have met in my personal life were always very helpful- weaning and breastfeeding isn't normally their sphere-it's usually part of the nursery nurse role and breastfeeding support workers-they have to be all things to all men- support breastfeeders but be open to supporting those mums who wish to formula feed.

There is so much to their role prescribing, assessing maternal and infant health often without the client even being aware an asessment is being made.

It's a all graduate profession all have to be registered nurses and some are midwives.I believe the salary is around £34000 - given the workload and level of responsbility they have I think they are underpaid- they aren't like hospital nurses who can ring the medic on call with an issue.

They are specialist practitioners .

I am sure like any other profession there are good and bad HVS but we don't seem to see teacherbashing or solicitorsmilebashing on mumsnet.

TeaOneSugar Tue 19-Oct-10 16:35:18

Sorry haven't read the whole thread, so this may have been said already.

HV's play a crucial role in some very deprived areas picking up on serious parenting issues, advising on weaning, sleeping arrangements etc and supporting parents with drug/alcohol dependancy issues.

I work in an area (not a HV myself), where a couple of years ago we had a high number of infant deaths related to inappropriate co sleeping arrangements in a short period of time, HV in this area provide important health promotion advice to parents who don't attend baby clinics, read parenting books and certainly don't use Mumsnet, they do what their friends do, so bad practice spreads.

Unfortunately they are also very stretch dealing with urgent protection issues as well.

I suppose I'm saying that HVs today aren't really there for the average mother unless she needs them, they should be focused on where they are needed, but maybe not wanted. Not all NHS commissioning organisations specify services in this way, so HVs waste a lot of time weighing perfectly health babies and telling mothers things they already know. Resources are often in the wrong place.

Caz10 Tue 19-Oct-10 16:54:30

Surely it is the same as every profession - some are vg, some are ok and some are crap?

My personal experience was that my HV was beyond crap, giving out dangerous and out of date advice and feeding and weaning - I have not seen her since DD was about 3mths and would run like the wind if I saw her again.

Now pg with dc2 I am just going to wait and see what happens. I will certainly be stronger and better informed this time round,and I may well be allocated someone different.

But I can whole-heartedly say that the 2 HVs I saw with DD did nothing except spoil my first few months as a mother. sad If I see the same people and they are still spouting the same crap I will jusy politely decline the service BUT I will also be writing a few letters, as I am angry and sad that they are allowed to give out such bad advice.

BoffinMum Tue 19-Oct-10 17:11:10

All mine have been very nice people and I would have no problem contacting them if I needed help. Once I did when we had SN problems and they were quite helpful and supportive.

BoffinMum Tue 19-Oct-10 17:12:37

My first one actually made me feel a lot more happy and more confident about being a mum - she just radiated kindness and belief in you.

lenak Tue 19-Oct-10 17:13:21

gardeningmum05 "one even told me not to be worried about a 1 year old still having a bottle before bedtime"

What on earth is wrong with a one year old having a bottle before bed? confused

It may not have been something you wanted, but she was right that it certainly wouldn't be something worth worrying about [hmmm]

jaffacake2 Tue 19-Oct-10 17:13:53

Hi just to say that Ive decided Im sticking with health visiting smile
Have had a great day. Been at a domestic violence refuge this morning talking to 2 new ladies who appeared with toddlers,bags in arms and battered bodies and minds. They seemed to appreciate the service and feel more at ease that they know the area resources and how to register with GP etc. Also to offload about the trauma they have been through.
This afternoon saw 2 new babies born to families who have known me with their first children. Seemed pleased to see me.
So girls and ladies I am exiting this thread knowing that I believe in what I do and that I am worth my salary.
Bye wink

bacon Tue 19-Oct-10 17:16:25

In this area a nice cushy number, she hardly looked stressed, very well dressed, high heels, smelt lovely, quite glam really. DNP - assessment what assessment and I was very down!

I really hope that they arnt paid £34K! and when I went for weigh-ins the assistant seemed to be doing everything. Later on a few assessments but very easy. It was a lovely pace of life for him chating and having a laugh.

Really I learnt nothing that I hadnt gained from Gina Ford or any other reference book. Actually I think Gina is well grounded, no wonder they all hate her and always tell you to throw it out the window.

Yes, I would assume dealing with troubled families would take a good HV.

MrsvWoolf Tue 19-Oct-10 17:22:06

Mine is lovely (we talk about children's clothes usually hmm). But she's also quite useless, frankly.

She said breastfeeding beyond the first year was 'what they do in the third world.' Dd is still bf at 21 months, however.

My old health visitor was the same; Just once I thought of a question to ask her (some new EU ruling on goat milk) and she didn't know anything about it.

They must be a help to some people, I think.

spiderlight Tue 19-Oct-10 17:27:05

My HV on exclusive breastfeeding - 'And are you STILL not giving him anything else?!' in tones that suggested a sickly waif-like scrap of a child, when in fact he had moved from the 6th to the 91st percentile.
On EBF to 6 months - 'Well, you'll be my first - nobody does that!'
On extended BF - 'And obviously you're not still feeding him...oh....I see, you're one of those mothers....'

But other than that she's actually quite nice!

Linnet Tue 19-Oct-10 17:41:16

The Hv's I had both times were lovely. They would come along, weigh the baby, check my stitches, they did the heel prick test, they advised on feeding, answered any quetions I had. They advised the times and days of the clinic, they informed me about breastfeeding groups that I could attend, baby groups nearby, baby massage etc

I never once felt like my personal space was being invaded or that they were checking out my house to report back of some faceless person whether or not my house was suitable.

When I had dd1 the Hv came out for the first 10 days and that was it. After that I took her to the clinc for weighing and jabs.

When I had dd2 I think they only came out about 3 or 4 times as the timing had changed.

They were great as in the first few weeks, depending on the type of birth that you've had, you may not be well enough or feel able to try and get an appointment to get to your GP to ask a question. they come to you to save you the hassle of getting organised and getting out of the house in the first couple of weeks.

Too much work to go around so HV can't keep up to date with everything. Sad thing is, that means their advice is sometimes rubbish and sometimes plain wrong.

I found my HV useless and ended up trusting my instincts and telling her what she needed to hear to tick the boxes on her forms.

I asked the HV (not my local one) at my local baby cafe that I'd heard about BLW and wanted to know more about it. She turned to me, in front of 12 other new mums, and said I mustn't do it, that it was dangerous and my baby could choke. I got the unspoken suggestion she thought I would stick burger and chips in front of DD at 6m and bugger off to watch jeremy kyle.

I trusted my instincts and all was fine. I also felt my HV didn't listen to me. She asked whether I was weaning at 6m and I replied i had gone for BLW and explained how DD liked to hold her chunks of veg. 2 mins later she then told me I should make sure I didn't just feed purees to get DD used to lumps biscuit

PlentyOfPockets Tue 19-Oct-10 18:25:00

"Mine kept telling me to FF as my baby must be hungry as not sleeping through.

Also that if she didnt gain more weight she would refer her to my GP.

At 8 months she is weaned, eats loads, no longer BF and still does not sleep through, yet happily on 25th percentile.

I think they are obsessed about that graph.

All they did was feed my anxiety problem."
I had a very similar experience with my first HV. DD was a small baby but with no other problems and BF was going fine, she was piling on weight, but the HV kept telling me she "didn't look right" and pushing formula at me. I got so upset I stopped going to the clinic but she kept coming round and checking up on me. I was on benefits and living on an estate at the time so I was probably "high-risk" or something. It was a relationship of deep mistrust on both sides, I think. DD is off to uni next year and also no longer BF

Meanwhile, when my sister had her first, her HV was marvellous. My sister was very young, and in an abusive relationship and needed a lot of help. Reading through a lot of the comments here, I get the impression that HVs are great in crisis situations but not so good at day-to-day stuff like BF and weaning. I wonder if this is something to do with their training? I had my kids years ago - I hoped this would have changed by now sad

PlentyOfPockets Tue 19-Oct-10 18:47:32

"I suppose I'm saying that HVs today aren't really there for the average mother unless she needs them, they should be focused on where they are needed, but maybe not wanted. Not all NHS commissioning organisations specify services in this way, so HVs waste a lot of time weighing perfectly health babies and telling mothers things they already know. Resources are often in the wrong place."
I agree. They need to do the basic checks on everybody but then they should bow out gracefully once they've determined that the mother is coping fine and their "advice" is less than welcome. Then they can reallocate their time where it's really needed. That was my experience when I had my second DC. The HV came round, was thoroughly lovely, listened to me, reassured me, left her contact details and then went away except for the check-ups. I don't know whether that was because it was my second or because I was living in an area with a lot more real problems to keep them busy.

Telling mothers things they already know is one thing, telling them things that are just plain wrong is quite another.

pamelat Tue 19-Oct-10 19:07:20

I think unnecessary for most mums. Most people can find out things on the internet, get peer support elsewhere etc etc

I find they are more like "support" for early weeks, but some people may need their help/advice.

I found they didnt really know anything that I couldnt find out or for myself, or didnt already know.

They also offer different and subjective advice so may as well just be a relative smile but some people dont have access to other means of support.

I would probably say that we dont need them but that something needs to be in place for people with no support.

pamelat Tue 19-Oct-10 19:09:25

Oh also I think I had PND with my first and have some kind of anxiety with my second (now) but no one has ever done that edinburgh test thingy on me sad

PlentyOfPockets Tue 19-Oct-10 19:14:01

@Lucyspangle:"weaning and breastfeeding isn't normally their sphere-it's usually part of the nursery nurse role and breastfeeding support workers-"

I was never offered either of these, it was midwife for a bit then the HV. It's a long while since I had mine but reading the comments, it doesn't appear this has changed much.

"they have to be all things to all men- support breastfeeders but be open to supporting those mums who wish to formula feed."

I really don't see why this is so difficult, especially as these are university educated professionals. Why shouldn't they be competent to advise in two closely related areas (BF and FF)? Can it be any harder than providing IT support to both Mac and PC users?

porcamiseria Tue 19-Oct-10 19:19:39

are they not for the less well off, cared for, dare i say neglected babies.

mountainmonkey Tue 19-Oct-10 19:22:38

Luckily DS and I didn't particularly have any problems so the HV checks were a matter of them sitting down and ticking boxes.

I think this discussion has really hit on the problem with HVs. When they're good they're invaluable; but when they're bad they're truly awful and potentiallly harmful.

I think the NHS really needs to take a look at HV training and make sure they are all kept up to date with latest guidelines.

Part of the problem seems to be that they're really overstretched. In the first 6 months of DSs life I saw four different health visitors. I haven't seen anyone for ages-though I know I could approach them if I felt I needed to.

onceamai Tue 19-Oct-10 19:27:29

Back again. I know 15 years is a long time ago but the bit I didn't get then and don't get now were the constant refrains from both the community midwives and the hv that they were grossly overworked and the government had a lot to answer for. Firstly, a professional should never take politics to work, secondly, if they were so busy, why did they appear to have so much time to waste chatting about their children, their homes, their low salaries, etc.

Also, I don't think 34k is a low salary, particularly outside London.

pamelat Tue 19-Oct-10 19:29:28

I think 34K is too much for their role, maybe deserved in poorer areas. Mine just dropped in for a cup of tea and a chat really.

BlackBag Tue 19-Oct-10 19:37:27

Hello HV and anyone reading this in charge of NHS budgets,

My HV was lovely, she looked beyond the terrible housing conditions and saw a beautiful baby with a tired mother, she told me I needed to rest more, I knew that but after she left I could tell DP, MIL, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all that 'the HV had said...'.

It helped. In terms of my child and I paying national insurance during our working lives the cost was really very small.

For my friend who certainly felt pre baby that 'she could ask for help, google, see the doctor' the low key, non judgy, seen it all before HV was an absolute lifesaver when she picked up on her PND, I bet that baby is going to be pleased mummy saw the HV because Daddy really did n't know what to say.
BY catching it early surely that saved our overall NHS bill.

So dear HV - thank you, I was to knackered at the time to say it, but I now have a beautiful girl and a lovely home.

Rockdoctor Tue 19-Oct-10 19:50:57

Where I am we have two wonderful HVs. They run the baby clinics, do home visits and advise on all the usual stuff - often their advice is preceded with the words "I'm not supposed to say this but..."

One of them also runs fantastic (free) post-natal classes covering such things as weaning - including blw - and baby massage!

Are they worth 34k? Not sure about that but I know they also cover some pretty rough areas so maybe they earn their money there.

reallytired Tue 19-Oct-10 20:02:00

Prehaps the problem is that most posters including me do not know what health visitors do. They do far more than give weaning advice to middle class mums.

I think its a pity that health visitors do not stand up for themselves a bit more. They have allowed their profession to be completely and utterly eroded. Many of their jobs are now done by people with far less qualifications.

I have given my health visitor my book on CBT. I want her to lend it to depressed mothers. I think that if health visitors were to read my book en mass then it would do themselves a lot of good.

The biggest problem is that many health visitors are completely and utterly selfless. They get walked all over and disrepected.

Are they worth 34K? Are computer programmers? Teachers? Or is there a snobbery on this thread that nurses are somehow thick and could not be well paid.

pamelat Tue 19-Oct-10 20:07:00

No snobbery from me I hope. Think "standard" nurses worth 34K as working for people who need the assistance

Yes HV's become de-professionalised. I guess its hard for them to defend themselves in an area where they have to be careful what they say.

Mine for example told me "the general advice is not to co-sleep but that is not for people like you, you'll be fine" shock

formerdiva Tue 19-Oct-10 20:10:05

To any HVs reading this thread - I just want to say:

- I know the pressures you can be under (anyone else like to take responsibility for spotting an abusive family situation and end up in court over it?)
- I know how hard you have to work (I'm on twice an HV's salary, but work less hours then some HV's I know)
- I know yours is a pretty thankless job (oh, so mums don't like to be told that they're putting too many blankets on the baby? That a fire guard would be a good idea? That they shouldn't be smoking in the house? But you say it anyway because you're acting in the child's interest)

...but I'd like to say thank you anyway. I'm fascinated to read some of the posters on this thread who feel they can deduce from their HV home visit what your entire job description is, how hard you're working and whether you earn your salary.

Nellykats Tue 19-Oct-10 20:13:09

My Health Visitor was a ray of sunshine in my very depressed early days. She was kind, supportive, gentle and I would love to meet her again. Sadly, I moved and was no longer under her.

We do seem to bash a lot of wonderful things about the NHS, I don't think you'll find a health professional visiting you in your own home for free, in many other countries.

But like the song says, you don't know what you got till it's gone.

wonderstuff Tue 19-Oct-10 20:16:15

I think that really this is ripe for a MN campain. Clearly there are some HV doing a very good and very important job. However there are clearly lots of issues with the service and there are even a significant amount of HV doing harm and undermining NHS public health messages. My mother talks very fondly of her experience of HVs, they came and visited regularly and helped when she was suffering PND and also ran classes in the local community where she could meet other new mums.

They need to keep knowledge up to date and be able to support all feeding choices

It would be good if there was some consistancy, if people were allocated to an area. There is potential surely for them to be an active part of a community and be able to put new mothers together through weekly classes/discussion groups maybe - our baby clinic is very much a show up, weigh and move on affair - a sit down discuss how you are getting on type thing would be nicer, espcially for new mums and would be useful for them being able to identifying people who may be vunerable.

Are they worth £34K - if they behave like professionals

onceamai Tue 19-Oct-10 20:19:05

Really tired - I asked my HV to define her role - I can still recall her telling me it was "how to look after my baby" - she was capable of no more thought than reading me a published NHS leaflet, I asked her boss to define her role - I can still recall "your HV will be able to tell if you are talking to your baby enough for him to develop speech", the then Chair of the HV Association stated in a national broadsheet that "the role of a HV was to teach ignorant mothers the three C's - cooking, cleaning and communication". I eventually, after a very formal complaint, received from the CEO of the Health Authority something along the lines of the "the role of the HV is to provide guidance in connection with child development".

Sorry but I wasn't an ignorant mother then or now. Regrettably my HV and her boss treated me as if I was and showed no indication of having sufficient commonsense to rear a litter of kittens let alone a baby. I felt I needed a lot of guidance with my first baby. It was very sad that I didn't meet a health professional in the first few months whom I believed capable of providing it.

As I have said before when I require advice from a professional adviser I expect some say in who provides that advice. The ultimate problem is that the HV is an imposed adviser - had mine submitted an invoice - it would not have been paid because the service rendered was not fit for purpose.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 19-Oct-10 21:15:42

Mine was useless, told me that DS would regress sleep-wise when he was about 16 weeks and that this was the sign that he would be ready for weaning - this was when he was 10 days old, she had no other information to offer.

I was at my friend's house when she had an HV visit with her most recent baby. This woman plonked herself on the sofa and proceeded to chatter away about how busy she was, how she didn't have any time to do her job and how cross she was that her team were moving offices because the toilets weren't as nice and they were further away from town so couldn't nip to the shops in their lunch break shock She did not ask a single question about my friend's baby.
When she eventually left after about 45 minutes I said something to my friend about how nice it must be to have an HV who was also a friend - I assumed they were mates because of the totally unprofessional way she had behaved. My friend had never met her before in her life. I was hmmshock and my friend was completely stunned.
She could have done with some support too, no extended family around, husband self-employed and working every hour, a newborn and a 20-month old. She had just given up on BFing at 10 days because she felt she couldn't handle it - but because she lives in a nice house in a nice area the HV clearly couldn't have given a shit. I bloody hope that woman wasn't getting paid £34k to spend her days like that.

claremoley Tue 19-Oct-10 21:25:20

They are totally pointless. But even more pointless is the developmental checks they do. They just have a series of boxes to tick, and if your child does not meet their criteria, they send you to a GP. They don't seem to get that some children manage different things at different speeds. In my experience all they seem to do is create panic and worry at a time when you need stability and calm the most.

JOEYMUM Tue 19-Oct-10 21:25:45

my child is only 9 weeks old and she has had 2 health visitors and today i was told that her 2nd health visitor is leaving in a couple of weeks so she will be given yet another one.
Got her weighed and shes dropped a line so was lectured its no wonder people are hung up on their childs weight when they go on and on about it anyway if they had botherd 2 ask they would hav found out that my child had been unwell 4 2 weeks.

Just to add that I'm sorry that some people have had such awful experiences of their HV but I was lucky enough to have a lovely one.

She came and did the initial visits, was quick and friendly and from memory I had no crap advice although my doula was there for the final visit so it was obvious that I had great support. But after 15 weeks of over-supply problems where I was fighting of blocked ducts/mastitis nearly every day, I went to my GP who referred me back to her (as well as the breast scan clinic). She was fantastic, stated openly that this type of problem needed more help than she could provide with her breastfeeding knowledge and contacted the PCT's breastfeeding counsellor's for me and also gave me the counsellor's mobile number. She then followed up afterwards to check whether I was okay and if I still needed any help - which I didn't.

She rang me late at night each time as she was working late with her work-load. I didn't have a huge problem considering what they must deal with but she made me feel that my health mattered to her and I really value what she does.

Not all HV's are useless and I feel that it's such a shame that the profession is so devalued and overworked that the bad one's don't have time for all important re-training and bring down the image of the great ones.

thebody Tue 19-Oct-10 21:38:46

lol.. loved the 'missing weening window' has to be the best yet... sorry love.. yes its litle britain.. bitee for ever more... shame u didnt laugh in her face.. sounds like a soundbite to me. bless her...

if u ask me.. (trained nurse, mum and cm) some people have commen sense and some dont.. regardless of wether ' health care professionals' or not..

in desperation to get some sleep i shredded wetabix into my babies bottle when he was 5 months old.. worked a treat and he now 21 and strapping lad... u know what.. ignore and do what you think right for your kid... you know best.. not any other person
mil, hv or anybody else for that matter..

thebody Tue 19-Oct-10 21:45:38

oh yes.. developmental checks..

kids do what they do when they do...

in my experiecne if theres a problem its the parents who spot it and then spend bloody months or years trying to get it recognised by so called 'health care professionals' or schools who dont want to spend the money/time/effot

when in dought.. ask your gran/ old neighbour/woman in corner shop... now theres women who have experience and can offer sensible advice..

Oblomov Tue 19-Oct-10 21:48:28

Please tell me they don't get paid 34k. all the ones i met were very pleasant, but as good as useless. what is their actual use ? any problem and they are only allowed to refer you to a gp anyway. and people are paid 34k for this. just about sums up our society. what a waste.

minxofmancunia Tue 19-Oct-10 21:54:27

yes oblomov tis true they're on Band 7 agenda for change, 32 to 40k a year.

amazingly as they conceal it so well, they have to have an Msc to say "every baby's different" or "why don't you just go out for a nice long walk".

I actually (briefly) considered converting to be a HV ( am a nurse already) to improve detection and treatment for PND and emotional well being but decided there was no way i could work with those people.
I'm too bloody outspoken, and intelligent dare i say it.

I wouldn't have been popular.

notsomumsie Tue 19-Oct-10 21:56:32

nice but useless

thebody Tue 19-Oct-10 22:01:01

yes they do.. the trouble is that rearing children is not an exact science is it.. no one has all the answers and can only offer advice..

in the old days mums had their mums, gran and aunties to talk to and that worked out fine.. lots of experience to draw on and mum was taken care of by the family

today its different.. couples are more isolated and with most of us being born to smaller families we have no dealings with small children or babies..

couples read all the crap written about child care and belive they can carry on living the lovely lives they had prior to having kids.. most being in their 30s or even 40s before conceving...

hv should say..

yes having kids is hard.. no you may not sleep for years.. no.. kids may not eat fruit and veg how ever hard you try and yes all have tantrums and are a pain in the arse and embaress you for the first 18 years of their lives and then you may hope for some improvement if you are lucky.. now thats the truth and worth 30k!!!!!

AddictedtoCheese Tue 19-Oct-10 22:01:20

Where I live unless you beg you won't see a HV after the first home visit. As for having an 'assigned' HV - as if!! I've had two dc's (and in fact previously lost a baby at 23 weeks) and nobody has ever bothered to follow-up on anything. With ds1 I was very, very unhappy for the first 6 weeks or so and despite collapsing in tears on her (only) home visit got no other care at all. I really needed some support and it wasn't there.

I found them utterly useless when I did go to the clinic, saw a different one and got completely different advice each time. I know that there are parts of the country that get different levels of care and I can see that if your HV gets to know you and your dc's it could be really beneficial.

However for me, like Oblomov I am horrified at the thought of them being paid £34,000 - outrageous and round here very, very poor value for money.

Starlet71 Tue 19-Oct-10 22:24:26

I guess like any profession they're a mixed bunch..I didn't have a great experience: as I sat there in my PJ's weeping with exhaustion and pain from 3rd degree tear and breast abscess all she wanted to know was when I was planning on 'getting intimate' with my husband again. This set of another wave of horrified sobbing and she just folded her arms across her ample bosom and said 'well, he won't wait forever you know!'. That was the last I saw of her...

thebody Tue 19-Oct-10 22:24:53


picking up from YOUR post ,heres the thing.. 'every baby IS different' fact.. 'going out for a nice long walk' CAN be a good cure for depression .. trouble is that now days to state this advice you have to have a degree...

I am trained nurse too, and i mean a proper 80s trained nurse..( havnt got a degree but can actually nurse) two totally different things...

mums need to be told at antenatal that having kids is hard... i think we expect to continue our lives uninterupted and thats the fault of having babies after careers.. 30s 40s and concequently the parents and grandparents who used to help young mums are now too old... all the old support newworks are eroded and we are left with so called health care professionals....

mathanxiety Tue 19-Oct-10 22:27:57

I had my DCs in the US where there are none, and I would have loved to have even a useless one call round and tell me pointless stuff.

I heard they were doing a pilot scheme with something like HVs in Hawaii to see if they could reduce a lot of the problems young parents were having with babies -- sadly a lot of violence against infants among some populations. I hope they felt it would work and that it was value for money.

Mummy2Bookie Tue 19-Oct-10 22:31:19

I agree entirely. When dd was born her hv was horrible. She disapproved of the age gap between myself and dp, we were in the middle of redecorating boxes everywhere etc, so she threatened child protection, went through my cupboards. Etc
I was so hormonal after dds birth I didn't stop her. Anyway, we threatened legal action, changed health visitors and are now reasonably happy.

Community nursery nurses are the worst, very snooty and always eager to put down mums parenting skills, they think that all new mums are inadequate,

To avoid argument, I listen to them but quickly forget and do what I feel is best for dd smile

plus3 Tue 19-Oct-10 22:35:04

Thebody,,are you suggesting that as a degree nurse and a sister with 10 years PICU experience that I can't nurse????
I'd like you to explain that to the family I nursed today.

minxofmancunia Tue 19-Oct-10 22:42:55

thebody I think you may need to update your knowledge on current treatments for depression....I'm sure David cameron would love it if walks "cured" depression think of the saving in this era of austerity!!

Unfortunately depression is often a chronic multi faceted and complex illness that requires a comprehensive set of interventions which often include medication and talking therapies to help people recover. Going for a walk is a type of behavioural activation that can help life mood temporarily.

I speak as a RMN of 12 years post qual and a cognitive behaviour therapist with almost 3 degrees. i like to think I can do my job!!

TheJollyPirate Tue 19-Oct-10 22:56:11

£34k for the level of stress experienced by most HVs is NOT a huge sum folks. Please do not kid yourselves all we do is weigh babies and carry out development checks.

My past couple of weeks has involved two very complex reports for social services, support for a drug abusing Mum who was assaulted by her partner while her DD was in her arms, phoning round to the refuge and various charities and trying to help another woman leave a violent relationship, an interview with police (child abuse investigation team) about a family I was involved with last year, five new mothers, four follow up visits to mothers and babies at 6 weeks (one of which has post natal depression) - I don't DO bloody developlment checks because I don't have the sodding time anymore. All 2 year checks have been dropped (the time when the non talkers are identified and ASD could potentially be spotted - as the mother of a child with ASD I find that dreadful). The 12 month checks are going the same way.

I am knowledgable about breastfeeding despite just 2 hours of theory when at Uni but don't have the time to support new mothers (thank God for the local breastfeeding support service who ARE brilliant).

I work part time and fit all the above around my son's needs. If I worked full time I would earn every penny.

Not saying all HVs are brilliant - some clearly are not and should have been put out to grass years ago. I had such a HV myself but plerase don't tar us all with the same brush and express disgust at what we earn - it's a paltry amount for the level of responsibility we are expected to take if it all goes tits up in a child protection case. And yes - some nights I DO wake up worrying.

Come and BE HV's all of you - there are going to be loads of new training opps according to the Cons manifesto (removes cycical smile from face). Frankly those of us working out butts off need all the help we can get.

thebody Tue 19-Oct-10 23:03:24

no i am not saying that depresion can be cured by on good walk.. of course not.. but i also have worked in mental health, qualified as a REGISTERED NURSE in 1982,, DISTRICT NURSING SISTER in 86 and then REGISTERED MENTAL NURSE in 91 SO I AM NOT WITH OUT EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD..

as always with health care professionals we can get pricky when challenged!!!!

I have worked with many depressed people and yes drugs can be absolutley essential and valuable to treatment but so is stopping and spending time taking and listening to patients..

and yes i have found that a good walk can make a diference to the health and well being of a patient as can stroking a pet.. all these treatment are well documented .. its multifaceted..

BUT most of all its time and listening and empathy my loves...

the fact that you mention you have 3 degrees is lovely for you but it doesnt make you good at your job ..... just that you can study...

RarrHumbug Tue 19-Oct-10 23:21:00

I speak to HVs regularly in a professional capacity. They do a wonderful job for the people who really need them and offer tremendous support.

dd1s HV was a lovely woman and I wish that I had the same level of care when we moved and were covered by another PCT.

kikid Tue 19-Oct-10 23:43:01

God this is why i hate mn sometimes...

sanctamonious bitches with nothing better to do than bloody moan, whinge, argue, and
bang on about heath visitors when they don't have a clue what they actually do!

thebrightside Tue 19-Oct-10 23:52:00

Mine have been fabulous

mamatomany Wed 20-Oct-10 00:04:57

Please do not kid yourselves all we do is weigh babies and carry out development checks.

That's true, we have a nursery nurse to do that at our clinic now I'm told, so somebody with an NVQ will be patronising new mothers instead of a qualified nurse hmm
I'm sure you do work your socks off Jolly, but you can surely understand the publics perception when you read these experiences ?
So many HPC are coming across as nothing short of idiots, the HV who gave my son his immunisation could answer none of my questions and was determined she was the one he wanted to go to for comfort rather than his mother afterwards, told me he didn't want the breast feed he wanted to cry, honestly I came out thinking what a prat.

TrappedinSuburbia Wed 20-Oct-10 00:29:03

My HV was great.

Please don't bash them all.

gaelicsheep Wed 20-Oct-10 00:31:49

I have mixed feelings about HVs. I have had good experiences with both of them when the DCs were small. My current HV has been really good with my PND, organised respite for us etc.

But we moved to this area a couple of years ago and the lack of interest in DS (then 2), despite me getting in contact, was truly shocking. Anything could've been going on in our house and nobody would have known. Then I found out that the HV for our current house, who came to see DD, didn't even have DS on her books - the records had never been transferred.

I was quite surprised to hear that babies here go from 4 months to 1 year without being seen at all. Isn't it the case that those who need help the most might be the least likely to ask for it?

I can't help feeling though that a great deal of what they do is a complete waste of time. The cringeworthy contraception chats, the 4 month weaning chat, the mediocre feeding advice. Some of the time they are preaching to the converted and the others will ignore them anyway. And don't get me started on Bookbug or the Childsmile programme. But for moral support on an individual they can be very good.

gaelicsheep Wed 20-Oct-10 00:32:26

on an individual level

duchesse Wed 20-Oct-10 00:34:26

I've had three in 17 years, and they've all been wonderful women. All very different styles but oodles of calm and experience. The one time I had to put up with a not so good one was a very upsetting experience, considering my daughters' weight "issues" (not an issue for them as they were disgustingly healthy, but clearly too much for the not-so-good HV to compute). All the other three have had the breadth of experience to know a failing to thrive child from a small but healthy child.

anonymosity Wed 20-Oct-10 04:32:48

They are first point of contact for signs of neglect, depression or abuse - and its important they see you / us early on in case there is a problem to report / help / solve...apart from the weighing and answering questions to do with feeding and sleeping etc. I would say its worth tolerating what you feel is a bit of a waste of time for 30 mins when it might save a baby's or a mother's life somewhere else down the line.

BaggedandTagged Wed 20-Oct-10 04:33:22

Mine is great. She has

- weighed the baby- yes, it's basic but her coming round means I dont have to haul him to the well baby clinic once a week/ fortnight.

- massaged the lumps out of my boobs

- been v supportive re bf (she's also a lactation consultant), watched me feed the baby and answered all my questions re timings of feeds/ demand vs wake and feed etc

- Helped me with expressing- advised re pumps as mine wasnt working for me

- Correctly diagnosed what I thought was wind as reflux and showed me how to tilt the mattress etc.

- Given me advice on treating cradlecap

- Reassured me that the fact my 5 wk old baby still sleeps pretty much all the time does not mean he's a bit slow grin

I think it's an important role for First time mums, however many books you've read.

ladymarian Wed 20-Oct-10 06:34:32

Don't get me started on HVs! angry The various ones I saw completely missed my PND and PTSD for 15 months, didn't bother to contact me for months and gave crap, contradictory advice (any question I asked about my DD resulted in one of the following answers - all babies are different, that's just babies for you. you'll be fine/you're doing fine/you are fine).

I ended up complaining about the HV provision at my surgery on the advice of my GP.

I think the HV could potentially provide a very important and useful service but ime they need to be better trained and better informed

onceamai Wed 20-Oct-10 07:10:59

Jolly Pirate - if that's what you do, that's brilliant BUT don't you agree there needs to be some more honesty about the manner in which the service is delivered. My HV could not have done what you do. The only time I went to the dreadful clinic when I was commanded I had to wait in an unhygienic environment adjacent to the sick people needing the doctor. The HV had stains down her front, and she was a registered HV because later I checked, and when she weighed my baby I noticed the scales were registering a minus. She noted a weight 6oz less than when the HV had visited me the previous week without comment. She then got arsy when I said I wanted the scale to be reset, the baby weighed again and the record amended. This was 15 years ago admittedly. It was my last interraction with the HV service as a mother. This followed two visits from my allocated HV who was completely and utterly useless and unable to provide any help whatsoever with feeding or about immunisation although very happy to dictate what I would do.

Surely there is a need for a separation between the social work/child protection issues in which you are involved and the service provided to families who do not present such risks.

As far as checks go, I was left with so little faith in the HV service I refused to have them carried out by an HV. I refusted the service completely when dd was born.

It's very interesting that the HV's on here by and large are not supportive of the difficulties women have faced with the service provided. I really do believe that a full review is required urgently to ensure resources are directed towards those who need them most.

TheJollyPirate Wed 20-Oct-10 08:01:48

I agree that the normal families receive a shit service but that's because we are stretched to breaking point. I do not dismiss what women experience at the hands of some so called health professionals and I include many HVs in that too. Some of the "advice" I have read as posted here by people's HVs is truly shocking and when I see it I don't hesitate to say so. Complain complain complain because only then do we stand a chance of getting those people OUT.

FWIW I do tell families that after 6 weeks their only contact with me is likely to be in clinic but I also DO tell them that they can access me by phone and email if needed and I make a point of ensuring I return calls. I do my best with limited time and resources. I thank the powers that be every day for Children's Centres and Outreach Workers who do a bloody fantastic job of filling in the gaps and in some cases providing the support I would like to provide but do not have time for.

I am constantly amazed that there are not more threads like this one on MN because HVs are not providing the service they should be due to constant cutbacks. Plus of course there are some utter shite HVs out there - had one with DS who dismissed his lack of speech at 2 completely (he is ASD).

On a more positive note our PCT now employs a specialised agency (Little Angels) who provide brilliant breastfeeding support. A full time psychiatric nurse to support mental health issues as well as a very good nursery nurse (who does not do development checks as she feels unqualified to do them).
It's not brilliant but better than it was.

Locally talk is afoot which might well see us moved in with the local social services. Higher up talk is afoot which will see us removed from so called normal families completely and targeted at the most vulnerable. I am not happy about this as one of the reasons so called difficult families let me in is because there is no stigma attached to my presence.

TheJollyPirate Wed 20-Oct-10 08:05:22

..... and there are some truly lazy HVs out there too. I have worked with them - pristine little duchesses sitting at their computers going "bloody hell Jolly look at the state of your desk" hmm. Needless to say they are always "busy" dispensing crap advice "if the crying irritates you could always put the baby in the garden for a while if the weather is nice" (No word of a lie that one folks). Er yeah because fresh air will really sort out a colicky baby hmm


thisiswhataluv Wed 20-Oct-10 08:20:43

i have had the same health visitr with all 3dcs, i rally dont like her..
she is more interested in my sexlife then anything else...
there was one comment she made which i thought took the p@@s

after 1 of my caseareans she asked

"have you had sex with dh since the section" i was mortified but answeresd "yes"
she then asked "did you enjoy it ?" before i could answer she then said "did your dh enjoy, it, thats the main thing"

i was [shocked] and blush at this....

if she is reading this she will know who i mean angry

BoffinMum Wed 20-Oct-10 08:30:08

I think the problem with confining HVs to the 'needy' would lead to two problems. First of all, the crap ones would not get complained about and continue to distribute terrible advice. Secondly, HVs would rapidly start to forget what 'normal' families look like.

Sounds to me like there is something to be said for giving them lactation consultant type training and refreshing the whole provision.

lucyspangle Wed 20-Oct-10 08:51:39

I don't think the hv bashers have a clue what the role actually involves and the level of responsibilty they have- perhaps all those people who don't want them and thnk they are rubbish should advise their nhs trust acordingly and let the HVS/PHNS get on ith their work targeted at people who want their input and the vunerables who need it
Keep up the good work Jolly Pirate and others.

pallymama Wed 20-Oct-10 09:48:45

I think YABU. I'm sorry that so many of you have had less than brilliant experiences with your HVs, but to generalise to the whole profession is foolish.

All of our HVs have been fantastic, very helpful, knowledgeable, approachable and not at all judgemental. The first time we were visited, I offered her tea, she told me to stay sat down and went and made us both a cup.

More recently, DD had been poorly, I was trying to get her seen by our GP, but the scary receptionist wouldn't offer me an appointment before 2 and a half weeks(!) and told me that I couldn't stay for the walk-in clinic as "the wait would be too long for a little one" hmm After arguing with the receptionist (ending with me stalking off muttering that the place was a joke blush ) I called our HV who got me seen elsewhere, and DD got diagnosed with a chest infection. So if you're reading this Karen in Southampton, thank you, we love you! grin

fedupofnamechanging Wed 20-Oct-10 09:59:59

Lucy - no one disputes that there are fabulous HVs out there, but the fact is that many women have had somewhat less than fabulous ones. Our experiences are as valid as those who've had good, helpful HVs.

Reading the link earlier in the thread to AIMS, it appears that if you refuse the HV 'service' that acts as a 'red flag' and parents can find themselves referred to SS on the strength of this alone. This hardly reinforces the idea that this service is optional and might explain why people don't opt out and leave it to those that need it.

TheJollyPirate Wed 20-Oct-10 10:40:01

... and just OMFG at what thiswhatalove's HV has said to her. Weird weird weird.

Debs75 Wed 20-Oct-10 10:43:17

MY first HV was brilliant, she called into see us regularly and was a mine of information and support. If we saw her in the street she always asked if we were ok and talked to the dc's
Our current HV is good enough. She is encouraging me to bf dc3(2) and dc4(2months) as she feels not enough people do in our area. She is great with feeding advice and easy to talk to which is a great plus. She does however keep pushing us on vaccinations, everytime saying it's my job to remind you. She knows our views and I wish she would respect them a bit more.
She is up to date on current trends like BLW so doesn't think i'm odd for not giving baby pureed foods.

frenchbulldog Wed 20-Oct-10 11:05:15

I think HVs should have regular psychological testing to see if they are mentally OK themselves. They are visiting very vulnerable people, and are in a position of power over them, able to initiate child protection procedures, and certainly more than able to use that as a threat. Is there any mechanism to ensure that they are not suffering from a personality disorder or other mental illness themselves?

Patsy99 Wed 20-Oct-10 11:54:48

One HV told me to stop eating fibre to help DS's colic. He was no better, I had constipation.

Another wrote in the red book that I'd "failed to attend" a check up, even though the date stipulated in the letter was when I was on holiday, I had rung up straightaway to request an alternative date (never forthcoming) and then resorted to just going in to a weekly clinic.

I never waited less than an hour at a baby weighing clinic. Such a lack of respect for parents.

I would never bother with a HV again. I just go to see the GP if there are any problems.

SuiGeneris Wed 20-Oct-10 14:12:49

So, do they actually visit? We got two visits when DS was 1 and 2 weeks old, and since then we go to the clinic but hardly ever see the same person. Of the ones we have seen, the one who came home was brilliant- but unfortunately never to be seen again. I wonder if she is the boss and therefore does not do clinics. Of the others, one is good and two indifferent.

From reading this it sounds like there should be a person to follow us- how does one find out who it is? And what do they actually do, other than weigh the baby and telling me off for having him weighed too often (once a month)?

Mibby Wed 20-Oct-10 14:26:14

Im 37 and a bit weeks pregnant and had a letter last week saying a HV would come round on a certain day and to phone if I had any queries. I rang to see why she wanted to come (thought it would be post birth, not before?) and if she wanted to see just me or DH as well. Not had any answer, does anyone else know?

notcitrus Wed 20-Oct-10 14:59:02

In my area there's one great HV and one slightly bonkers but generally supportive one.

The big problem is the unqualified assistants who weigh babies and do other checks and spout all manner of crap without making it clear they aren't HVs. Ds was 10 months old before I found out two local 'HVs' weren't actually HVs at all!

I do think it's great that all new mothers and their babies get seen at home at least once, and if you don't want to let them in that should be OK but I can understand them checking to see if you and baby have seen a GP or clinic to confirm you are both OK.

greenbeanie Wed 20-Oct-10 15:11:58

Agree with JollyPirate, some of the advice that you have received from your HV's is shocking and like she said I have also worked with appalling HV's. Even when I was training as a HV I complained about a member of staff as she was advising all mums to wean their babies onto jars of food at 8 weeks old!!

However, there are some good ones, admittedly often overstretched which can make it seem difficult to access us at times. I do make sure that all my families are told that although we don't do the number of routine visits that used to happen we are always there and will return phone messages and make appointments if needed. I suspect for most of you you will just experience the "routine" aspect of our service rather than the support for families enduring domestic abuse, parents that need support when their children have been abused by paedophiles, terminally ill children and babies, court appearances to testify re child abuse cases, and supporting families so that they can remain out of the social services arena.

rockinhippy Wed 20-Oct-10 16:08:55

They actually DO exist???...... I never saw 1 at all, received a letter very early on explaining there was a shortage & that as I wasn't considered to be in any high risk group hmm that if I wanted any advice, weighing etc I was to go to the local childrens center & I was SENT a PND questionaire shock

Though, I've got to be honest, I was quite glad, as the ones I met at the center, though lovely & friendly, were pretty rubbish & we disagreed on a lot of stuff, that I turned out to be right about, such as DDs skin problems NOT been excema at all, & they could offer no advice on my own health problems, some of which, later turned out to be labour related, could of saved years of grief if someone had bloody listened angry

frasersmummy Wed 20-Oct-10 16:23:35

Its like everything in life .. it all comes down to your own experience doesnt it

My first ds was stillborn, my ds2 was born almost exactly a year later

The day my hv came out with pnd questionnaire it would have been my ds1 first birthday

As you can imagine I told her in quite strong terms that I didnt feel like filling in her stupid form.. she said ok I'll come back but she never did!

Now I know I was partly to blame but surely someone with half a brain would have thought .. right that woman has a lot to cope with so she might need extra help.. I'll pop back or ask a colleague to visit

NonBlondGirl Wed 20-Oct-10 16:56:23

gaelicsheep mentioned cringe worthy contraceptive chats - one HV tried that with me distracted with upset toddler and baby on my lap, my mother sat next to me, a hysterical unknown mother with her distressed baby, who was upsetting my DC with its screaming, and her un-introduced colleague other side of me and one row behind an entire waiting room full of people listening avidly and heckling.

Only time in my life - I was then a grown woman of 30- that I've been glad my very prudish mother was next to me when someone tried to talk/grill me about my sex life. Her displeasure was made know to HV and the 'audience' - while I sat in stunned embarrassed silence.

As she’d been to the house twice – both times arriving unannounced on my door step - I’ve no idea why she thought that was the best setting for such a conversation.

Unfortunately the only way I know there are hard working indispensable HV doing a lot of good out there because of threads like these – all the ones I’ve met have been unhelpful and ill informed or odd -luck of the draw I guess.

jaffacake2 Wed 20-Oct-10 17:50:29

Thought I would rejoin thread as still going on about what a waste HVs are.
Told you about my day yesterday,at refuge and seeing new babies,felt quite a positive day.
Well today was horrible. Was due to write court report this morning but was notified by GP that one of my families had a baby die in the night to cot death aged 17 weeks. I know the family well,phoned and mum asked me to visit. Left the report and went round for 2 hours with very upset family.Talked,listened,talked listened more. Will visit again and will go to funeral at mothers request. So sad left feeling drained.
Then this afternoon baby clinic. Busy,lots of intense enquiries about weaning,breastfeeding etc plus mum with PND crying who I tried to bring in early but was met with complaints from other mothers.
Still havent done report. Tomorrow if this thread is still rolling will tell you about child protection conference with addict mother who has neglected 2 yr old and tells me Im f***ing whore.
Am I worth £34k ? Trained nurse,trained childrens nurse,HV,degree child psychology,UNICEF breastfeeding counsellor.and years of experience. This is top of my salary scale unless I go into management.
Going to get a G&T feel shit.sad

reallytired Wed 20-Oct-10 17:58:02

With all this health visitor bashing, I feel tempted to write a letter to my health visitor and tell her how lovely she is.

"mechanism to ensure that they are not suffering from a personality disorder or other mental illness themselves?"

Why? With my son had a health visitor who openly admitted to being biopolar. She is on medication for life and its no different to someone with diabetes. Infact this lady was very good.

Caz10 Wed 20-Oct-10 18:07:28

Can I ask jollypirate or anyone else in the know what the situation is re training for HVs?

I am a teacher and earn less than 34k and reckon I work pretty damn hard for my salary. Part of our contract is that we take part in continuing professional developement, through attending courses, reading literature etc.

I cannot see why HVs are NOT up to date on things like BLW, Bfing etc? The girls at my local BFN group said that they invite HVs to their peer supporter training and they wont come! Do they not have a contractual obligation to keep up to date?

Following my run-in with my disastrous HV I spent lots of time with the BFN group, read books and spent time on MN/Kellymom and now feel fairly well informed re Bfing - why can't they do that?

I actually thought they earned much less than £34k so thought it might not be realistic to ask them to attend eg twilight courses, weekend training etc like I do. But for that amount why the bloody hell not?!!

leftbank Wed 20-Oct-10 18:11:05

HV's are not a waste of time. I work in child protection and regularly request health visitor reports. They have the best insight and experience in child health and development and are an invaluable resrouce to many women who cant cope and are poor and isolated. Just becasue you have a nice life and a nice house to bring your children up in, doesn't mean everyone does.

jaffacake2 Wed 20-Oct-10 18:12:03

I have to go to mandatory training updates each year which include breastfeeding updates,child protection and child health. Plus specialist areas like domestic violence,conflict resolution and any training days put on by the child development unit at the local hospital.We have professional yearly development plans so dont know why people are still getting wrong advise.

Caz10 They start at more like $25K and that's after the years of training to be a nurse or midwife and then a couple of years + as a nurse or midwife before you're likely to be accepted on to an HV course. HVs aren't newly qualified people at the bottom of their profession. And their workload is, sadly, more similar to a social worker's than to a lactation consultant's.

Personally, after reading this thread, I think that's the "problem" with the HV service really. It's promoted as a universal support service for mothers in general, but it seems to be focused mainly on child protection. Stretched too thin and with a remit that does not really match its broad user base.

TheGhostlyPirate Wed 20-Oct-10 18:43:06

Tbh Caz10 the eucation (such as it was) uring my HV training for breastfeeding was a paltry 2 hours - it's shite, the peopke I trained with would have learned more from an experienced breastfeeding mother than they did in that lecture. As an ex-midwife and an ex-breastfeeder (albeit I struggled) I feel fairly confident in the advice I give - the same is not true of all my colleagues. It seems that HVs are jack of all trades and truly master of none. I have had ructions this week for criticising the weaning display in the doctors waiting room which gave useful tips for weaning "start with purees" doncha know. I could scream sometimes. My 7 yr old was weaned (BLW style) when he grabbed a roast pot off my plate at five months and crammed it in his mouth (most went on the floor). I know about BLW and a recent advisory mail said we should be advising it and went into detail (correct I might add) about the advice we should give with regard to this. So you can see my frustrations and in return I can understand yours and all other MNers (or any woman) who has recieved shit advice.

On the other hand my caseload (the active part of it) consists entirely of child protection, postnatal depression and other emotional health problems (but mainly child protection) as such I update myself on those issues when I have protected update days as they form the bulk of my work. This does not mean I cannot read and laugh at the C&G updates or take more seriously the other stuff. Just that they are not currently forming my workload and so I get other help in for women and respect the fact that a breastfeeding supporter now knows far more than I do about keeping a breastfeeding mother going. It's not ideal but just how it is at the moment.

And as I said earlier - there are those who are just plain lazy and don't want to do anything beyond the standard agreed updates.
The same HVs who laugh at me running round like the proverbial headless chicken and criticize my messy desk. Thank God the one I have in mind is retiring next month and taking her perfectly groomed nails with her.

frasersmummy Wed 20-Oct-10 18:59:25

Jaffa sounds like you totally deserve your g&t. I guess a lot of us only get 1 experience of hvs so thats the one that we will trot out at every opportunity

While you are having your g&t give yourself a pat on the back for being much better than some of the maddies mentioned on this thread

nymphadora Wed 20-Oct-10 19:01:16

Jaffa may be a shit day for you but you still made a difference to the poor mother who lost her child , pnd lady & the child of the addict

onceamai Wed 20-Oct-10 19:33:33

Again and again the good HV's are bogged down in child protection and social work related issues. Why is the service offered to all mothers regardless on a continuing basis. I'm quite sure I would have been a complete waste of Jaffa Cake's and Jolly Pirate's time. Nevertheless: wanted baby, married parents in their mid thirties, lovely home, very very privileged children (sorry - don't mean to brag). Arsy, class ridden, uncaring, political comments from HV.

I was told at NHS ante-natal classes that the HV was invaluable and would pick up where the fantastic community midwives left off - the HV wasn't invaluable the comm mids weren't fantastic. Even 15 years ago the comm mids provided a dreadful service followed by a worse one from the HV's. Why isn't the system more honest - I simply don't understand and I don't think I'm thick. I did not need an HV and had I been told of limitations in post natal period during the ante natal period, I would have made alternative arrangements but was not given the opportunity.

DD = private birth, refused HV service in writing as a result of previous formal complaint. I was more than capable of purchasing support and in the meantime I had read so many books that I successfully fed dd. Poor community midwifery and HV pushed me into six months of bf related pnd in spite of all advantages. Had the system been more honest I could have arranged alternatives and the hv's would not have had to visit me leaving them with more time to devote to those who really needed them.

On the point of 34k why on earth aren't more hv's in formal capability processes leading to dismissal if they aren't capable of the fulfilling the role?

jaffacake2 Wed 20-Oct-10 20:07:21

In our area at 8wks post natal HVs do a family needs health assessment which is based around the same assessment that social workers do with families.This is clearly seen by the parent on the form as looking at the needs of the child which could be adversely affected by parenting issues,ie DV,drugs,alcohol PND.Living conditions ie poor housing like B&B or hostels or at risk of eviction. The 3rd part is the development of the child ie health complications or delay.
By going through this which takes about 20mins you can then target those in need and also be honest with parents about where the service goes. If a family have no extra needs they are offered the core HV service which is phone contact advise and access to clinics. This is then being straight with all families that not everyone needs or wants health visiting.

onceamai Wed 20-Oct-10 20:19:00

But Jaffacake surely some of that assessment is done before the birth by comm. midwives and GP's. Why can't the info they glean, ie, whether on benefits, occupation, living circumstances, abusive relationships, addictions, and I still recall "do you want IT"!!!!!!!! etc., be passed directly to the HV's avoiding the need for unnecessary blanket visits.

greenbeanie Wed 20-Oct-10 20:25:31

Caz10, the situation re HV training is this: To become a HV you have to have trained as a nurse or midwife (3 years training) and then completed at least 2 years in practice before then completing in a degree course as a specialist public health nurse (the new term for health visitors. The starting salary is around 26k rising to a maximum of 34k for those with 10 years exeperience.

In my case I did a 4 year degree in paediatric nursing followed by a specialist diploma in paediatric oncology nursing and then a degree in Public health to gain my health visiting qualification, in addition to 10 years experience as a paediatric nurse and ward sister.

jaffacake2 Wed 20-Oct-10 20:27:02

Some is known by MWs but noone else will have visited the home so reality is often not uncovered until after the birth. Drug addicts are usually known and I will visit antenatally to try and get some idea of risks. GPs may have some history but still have not seen the home environment.
I guess as HV numbers dwindle,not many being trained inspite of what the govt say and lots ready to retire, then we will really see what does happen when noone fully assesses a childs living environment.

greenbeanie Wed 20-Oct-10 20:28:44

Sorry for all the spelling mistakes, been a long day...

Chatelaine Wed 20-Oct-10 20:45:35

I agree that HV are lovely and every new mother should have one. From my own personal experience as a young mum was that the service was inept at a time when I needed it most. My question (re: first born) 1986 to the HV was "how long can I express milk and still keep my supply?" This was to give time for the sore bits to heal etc. Her answer - "whatever you think" It was so uncommital, and subsequent to that re: potty trainning, it was the same answer. To sum up, they were unwilling to give any direct advice and what I desperately wanted and needed at the time was some confident advice to follow. We survived but the HV was just a visitor imo. Interestingly I was told at the time that the service can be called upon for all ages in the family, not just infants, does anyone know if that still applies?

Jaffacake2 What you seem to be saying is that a primary purpose of Health Visiting, effectively, is to check whether parents are fit to parent without government interference. And the universal home visits are a way to make that possible.

I find that quite a scary policy for a democracy.

Chatelaine Wed 20-Oct-10 20:55:51

SuchProspects - I think you will find that the history of the HV begins long before the NHS and that yes, the health and welbeing of children for the "Health of the Nation" was of great interest to the government. They had the prospect of WW1 and realised how poorly prepared in terms of health care we were.

jaffacake2 Wed 20-Oct-10 21:07:35

such prospects- I wouldnt put it like that. I would see it as protecting the most vulnerable in our society thats what a democracy should thrive to do.
If you look at statistics we have 3children die a week either from abuse or neglect from carers,millions of children in poverty and the worse child mental health in Europe.
Its a service looking at health needs of children. Years ago this would have been 1 HV to 150 families now its more like 1 HV to 600 families. Thats why although a universal service it concentrates on the most vulnerable families.

jaffacake2 lol. No. Nobody in their right minds would put it like that if they wanted the service to survive. But it seems to be (part of) what you're doing.

I could see health professionals (and the public) thinking about it and deciding it's problematic but on balance it's worth the cost. But I would expect the ethical issues to be flashing brightly the whole time and subject to significant and ongoing debate. But it seems to have been brought in in an very paternalistic manner and to be subject to little if any debate. I find that to be worrying.

The number of health visitors isn't really the issue on this point - since even if you could provide 80 hours of one-on-one time per mum and a daily cleaning service as a bonus, doing so in order to surreptitiously gain access to the house to see if they "pass" is still ethically dodgy.

That should be "if they wanted the service to survive in that form". I do want Health Visiting to survive - I do think there's a lot of valuable work done by HVs, but I'd like to see changes.

gaelicsheep Wed 20-Oct-10 23:04:24

If the main purpose of HVs is child protection, how can they justify completely ignoring a child that's newly moved into the area (as happened to us, see below). And how can they just leave babies for months on end without being seen? Problems could develop (PND for example) and nobody might know about it until it was too late?

anonymosity Thu 21-Oct-10 02:17:31

Did you register when you moved and go along to their weekly clinic so they knew who you were? I haven't seen your other thread, but suspect that unless you make yourself known and on their list as it were, there's every chance you'd get lost amongst the numbers. (That aside, I'm very sorry to hear about your PND).

TheGhostlyPirate Thu 21-Oct-10 06:53:24

Tbh gaelic the chances are the HVs did not even know you were there. I come across it all the time as a HV. Unless the Mum rings us we often don't know they are there.

As faot not seeing babies for months on end - we do look at the whole picture when we do initial visits and more or less risk assess. Some we know we have to keep an eye on either from past history or from what we find when we visit. I personally could not visit every single baby on my caseload though as I HAVE to focus on the need rather than the want. I have families I would give my eye teeth to visit weekly but who are so normal I cannot justify it so I visit the 15 year old Mum, the 17 year old parents who are struggling due to dad's cannabis use, drug abusers, the families where children are subject to child protection plans and child in need plans.

I take your point that any child could be subject to abuse at any time and things CAN change but given current resources I have to prioritise my workload on probabilities.
Even WITH weekly visiting and lots of support abuse can happen - some years ago I worked with a family who were struggling because of depression (Mum). They appeared to be doing well in all other respects and their children were georgeous and well cared for. Then between one visit and the next booked visit the baby was taken to hospital with all the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome and Dad subsequently went to prison. So even with intensive visiting we will not prevent abuse if it is going to occur.

I have just read the OP again though and could rage about it.... some HVs are just NOT up to the job. Perhaps we shouldn't be needed - would the money be better spent going into other services?

TheGhostlyPirate Thu 21-Oct-10 07:05:58

...and suchprospects I see what you are saying but am just not sure how we get round these ethics. At present we have no other way of doing things apart from to offer a blanket service to all.
The main reason for me visitng a new mother is to offer a service (albeit this may be fairly limited to phone contact and baby clinic) and NOT to make sure she is fit to parent her baby. However, if problems become apparent at that first visit then I would be negligent not to do anything about it.

If there are problems - emotional health etc then I can often offer support and I do. This is not about child protection but about supporting a mother to see she is doing a fabulous job and giving her 45 mins of time to talk about the difficulties she is facing. In some cases it's also about trying to get appropriate support.

The bulk of my work IS child protection but that should not be the focus of my work which SHOULD be family health. The resources are such though that Child Protection is what I have to concentrate on.

Anyhow - must get ready for work.

onceamai Thu 21-Oct-10 08:12:25

If HV's were part of anyone's household budget or the budget of a small company how long do you really think they would last Ghostly Pirate no individual or small private company would allow the leakage of resources in the manner of the HV service. No published objectives, no mission statement, no short, medium or long term strategy about to improve effectiveness. And it was a joke that I had to go to the CEO of the Health Authority to get a definition of what HVs are supposed to do and even that was non specific. When from reading threads on here 1 in 3 at best and possible 1 in 2 are not capable of providing an acceptable standard of service do you not agree as a Health Visitor the current situation is completely unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

gaelicsheep Thu 21-Oct-10 16:42:36

So when a child is registered with a new GP the HV records don't follow the medical records?! That is very surprising.

My experience in the first area was requesting to be seen (for the 2 year check that everyone got but we didn't) and it being refused. Then in this current area, where HV didn't know DS existed, it turns out the team in the previous area - who had been expressly contacted by me and had refused to see DS - had never got DS's records from the previous place we lived.

Obviously everything is fine here (we're staying put now), but families moving around must sometimes be an indicator of an unstable home life. And of course the child at risk will be the one whose parents don't contact the HV.

Caz10 Thu 21-Oct-10 17:13:34

greenbeanie and ghostlypirate thank you for replying. I understand there is a good deal of training needed to become a HV in the 1st place, but I think what seems to be missing, unless I am missing it!, is the CPD aspect - WHY do they not get up-to-date training inputs on eg BLW, bf-ing etc? Bf-ing initial peer supporter courses are 1 day events at weekends etc, HVs should be on them! I'm sure you get updates, as I do, when for example there are changes in child protection legislation - so why not on weaning advice etc?

When I had stopped being angry at mine for trying to force me to stop bf-ing, I did have a wry laugh at the fact that she told me how to go about formula feeding in completely the wrong way in terms of the new guidelines on heating the water etc.

J33 Thu 21-Oct-10 17:14:20

i had a fantastic HV - not only was she great with all my dc but last year when i had been suffering from depression and had been hospitalised, when i came home she would come and visit me once a week just for a chat and to make sure i was coping alright even though dc were at school - i have been so lucky.

nightingale452 Thu 21-Oct-10 17:25:43

The main problem I remember with my HV for DD1 was trying to get any concrete information out of them. I had no idea about babies before I had mine and I remember asking just how long they were supposed to sleep during the day. I got all sorts of waffle about all babies being different and to be led by your baby etc, when what I wanted to know was should it be 10 minutes or 5 hours? They really don't like to commit themselves. It was only when I said my newborn DD1 was maybe having half an hour or so in total over a few catnaps that I got any kind of useful info - in the end I had to resort to the Gina Ford book for an estimate of a normal total sleep time - no wonder DD1 screamed the whole time, I thought they just slept when they were tired, didn't realise you needed to actually put them to bed blush.

onceamai Thu 21-Oct-10 17:36:27

So the upshot seems to be that actually HV's are there for those who are at risk and offering the service universally means they can identify who is at risk. I can buy that (with difficulty) if the quid pro quo is an excellent mother and child centred service which provides excellent advice based on evidence based research offered in a kindly and thoughtful way. Is that what mothers who aren't at risk are getting? I didn't get it 15 years ago and don't see any positive changes since.

Surely if HV's want the blanket access they have to give something that's worth having in return do they not? Was confused 15 years ago, continue to be confused now.

Come on HV's was it right that 15 years ago the chair of the Health Visiting Association gave an interview in the national press, think it was The Times, stating the role of the HV was to teach ignorant mothers the 3 C's, Cooking, Cleaning and Communication.

Very respectful to most mothers or what. Sorry but am I really supposed to have an iota of respect in those circumstances especially bearing the mind the wholly inadequate and insolent service I received.

I was treated as though I was ignorant mother. It was wholly unacceptable then and remains wholly unacceptable now.

Absorb it into social services and have done with it unless the service can be significantly improved. If it can't be honest about what can be expected from it.

jaffacake2 Thu 21-Oct-10 17:58:11

No it wasnt right the service you received 15 yrs ago and things are changing at speed for the health visiting service.

We will be commisioned for safeguarding and seeing new babies following the midives visits,we then have to work out who has a targetted service.All other parents are offered phone advise and dropin clinics.

All the preventative work we used to do with families is supposed to be in Childrens centres by their workers. Probably wont be commisioned for supporting mums with PND,bereavement,disabled children.

You cant compare a child health service with companies. Child protection is expensive and the only end product you hope is a live healthy child. Bad economics when they die look at the cost of Baby P and Climbe inquiry millions.

PlentyOfPockets Thu 21-Oct-10 19:11:34

I appreciate the argument that if HVs only visited "at risk" families then there would be a stigma attached and it would be less likely that the people who really needed them would let them in. I also agree that it's a good idea to do an occasional check on everybody because PND and other problems can crop up in any home, but the service for "normal", coping-well-enough families seems to be frequently worse than useless.

Perhaps the answer is a sort of two-tier HV service: Somebody properly trained in the basics - feeding (BF AND FF), sleeping, weaning (all methods), normal child development - all the stuff a not-at-risk family would find useful - would visit every family. They would also be trained to spot problems and refer the mums on as necessary to a second tier of HV who could make full use of their specialist training to work with at-risk families, or they could refer mums to BF support workers if that's what is needed, or any more specialist help a mum may need, or just keep contact to the minimum if that's what is appropriate.

What am I talking about? There are horrible cuts - nothing is going to get any better any time soon sad

jaffacake2 Thu 21-Oct-10 19:16:11

Watch what happens to the service, there has been no investment into HV training over past decade. We are being commissioned to deliver a stat service mainly on safeguarding. Its unlikely that "non at risk "families will receive a service and that HVs will be brought into Childrens services to work alongside social workers.

onceamai Thu 21-Oct-10 19:23:30

Well there was investment two decades ago and they still weren't providing an acceptable service then. Sorry Jaffa but I really think things have to change. Feel tempted to ring up the Health Authority and tell them I'll reconsider a non exec directorship after all this!!

littlefish77 Thu 21-Oct-10 19:31:39

Health visitor comment on mums net Oct 2010

My experience of HV was awful – and dangerous. My DS’s weight dropped from the 75th centile at birth to just above the 2nd centile in week 7.

I never saw the same HV in a row.

Although the HVs said they were concerned about DS’s weight they just kept telling me to go to a breast feeding clinic – ergo I was feeding him incorrectly.

On an occasion when my “named” health visitor did have contact with me she saw my DS bring most of his feed up (as normal) and she said, “There must be plenty going in if there is plenty coming out.” How WRONG she was. My son has reflux and thank God I know a paediatric doctor who I rang in desperation. Within 2 days she had diagnosed (him over the phone) and we saw his weight increase dramatically.

A good friend watched as her health visitor who was on the phone write information in the red book about her DS that the HV could NOT have known if it was true or not.

In my experience, HV are appalling. angry

TheGhostlyPirate Thu 21-Oct-10 19:57:44

...but littlefish and onceamai - can you at least accept that we are not all appalling?

Most HVs have NO training in feeding/weaning at all apart from "on the job". It's not great and tbh I know what I do because I keep up to date. There will not be a universal service for much longer I doubt - we are all being told that we will work with "needy" families and not universally in the future.

And what the HV woman said in The Times 15 years ago is hideous. I certainly do not see that as MY role. More like looking at health needs and trying to find resources to meet these needs.

Quite honestly though after the day I have had today I might just resign anyway and donate my salary elsewhere. M+S must be looking for Xmas staff sad.

TheGhostlyPirate Thu 21-Oct-10 20:05:23

I am surprised there are not more of these threads but honestly can some of you not realise that you cannot tar a whole profession by your experiences of a few.

It IS disheartening to read "All HVs are crap" written on the experience of 3 contacts - especially after the day I have had today.

And will hide this thread as it's starting to annoy me immensely. Those of you who think we are useless just refuse the bloody service - it's NOT complulsory.

And if there were no HVs I can tell you that the GP appointment system would collapse under the weight unless they employ many more GPs who are infinitely more expensive than HVs.

Bye bye - thread hidden as of now.

jaffacake2 Thu 21-Oct-10 20:06:34

hostly pirate lets give up we cant defend ourselves anymore we surrender!
Honestly noone relly understands what working with difficult families is like unless they are in family law or social services.
Lets stop banging the drum and go job searching ! Take care smile

Caz10 Thu 21-Oct-10 20:33:42

I hope that enough people have said that they are not all useless!! It is just the same as every other profession, goodies and baddies, but this is a parenting forum so we've all had experience of HVs. I have no doubt there are truly appalling accountants out there, but I've never used an accountant!

fwiw I'm a teacher and a fair few of them are crap! grin

But the stakes are so high I guess with what the HVs have to deal with - that is why being unprofessional and poorly trained (again not you guys personally) is unnacceptable!!

Moomma Thu 21-Oct-10 21:20:25

I am sad to say I didn't encounter a single decent HV in the last 13 months. One came after the midwives signed off on us (they did the home checks after my DS was born). She sat on the sofa and told me that my (seriously underweight, premature) DS should be fed every four hours, not three, as otherwise he'd never get used to feeling hungry. hmm

Then there was the one who didn't know how to measure him when we had our first check-up at the clinic, so his length was never recorded. Then there was the one who wanted to refer us to a nutritionist after the lovely GP had reassured a very anxious me that my DS was healthy, just 'a slender child'. And how was a nutritionist supposed to help a breastfed-on-demand baby who was just very energetic and had been a low birthweight? She made me cry all the way home. She made her pronouncement based on looking at the chart in his red book, by the way - she didn't actually look at him once. Not even at his face.

Then there were the four HVs who did a session on weaning for mothers of 16-week-olds, none of whom knew what BPA-free meant, none of whom could advise anyone on stopping breastfeeding and none of whom seemed to know anything about babies. Four of them. One would have done for a room with ten babies/parents. I still recall them saying, 'BPA-free is just a manufacturer's gimmick'. And I get that they are supposed to encouraged breastfeeding, but badly prepared formula can make babies very ill indeed.

I have met nine or ten HVs through the local practice, a very large one in a baby-filled area of London. Some of them were perfectly nice people, but I have yet to receive any advice that was even sane, let alone helpful. And I have heard some shocking advice that was given to other mothers I know.

Why would anyone want to be a HV? And what do you need to do to qualify? Being a busybody shouldn't be enough.

MummyEvans Thu 21-Oct-10 21:34:15

Definitely useless in my experience. If you asked anything that wasn't in the text book they didn't have a clue.

Haven't seen one for DS since he was 5 days old (he was 1 yesterday). They "forgot" to give me the results of his heel prick test and sent them when he was about 4 months old.

Had a standard letter from them a couple of weeks ago basically saying "read the attached and get in touch if you think there's a problem". Marvellous! Oh and they also advised me that my child should be weighed at 1 year (get yourself down to the clinic to do this). WHY? It'll be for no-one's benefit except mine! They seem to be called the Public Health Team around here now, except they don't seem to see much of the public!

As withorwithoutyou said, think they are there to check you don't need reporting to social services and perhaps to help if you're having trouble coping. But they'd never know if, as in my case, they haven't seen you since your baby was 5 days old... Relying on the parent to get in touch if they fall into one of the above is a bit of a risky strategy, it seems to me.

Moomma Thu 21-Oct-10 22:08:25

Just wanted to add that I hadn't read the whole thread when I posted blush and having done so, I can see there are good ones out there working hard. I did encounter some shockers, though. But I do know what it's like to be broadly categorised as useless when you work bloody hard for small enough reward, and I feel sorry for the HVs who are worth triple their salaries. Working with The Public is a tough job sometimes. We, The Public, don't always see it that way.

HelenQ Fri 22-Oct-10 09:31:41

I really cannot praise my HV highly enough. I was on the at risk watch list for PND (I am bi-polar and was taking a reduced level of meds for my illness to minimise addictive nature of the drugs on the baby) and she visited before, and many times after. It never felt forced or judgemental. I knew that I was at risk and I knew I wouldn't notice. She was fabulous with practical advice about formula (couldn't BF due to addictive drugs I have to take). I think her support (and that of the other HV's in our area later on when I attended the weigh in clinics weekly) was one of the reasons I didn't get PND. However NCT friends from different areas travelled to weigh ins in my area as their own HV's were similar to the bad ones being described above.

Unfortunately it's one of those services where a bad experience/bad service can have a really severe impact on us at a very vulnerable time.

babypeach Fri 22-Oct-10 09:43:49

the hv that visited me was nice enough but have found since going to clinic my self that they all tell me totally different thongs about the same issue i had with bf - they seem to just go with their own views.

that said at least there are people there to talk to - my midwives were absolutely useless - any issue i asked them about on their helpline ended in "if you're worried go to a&e" with no other help!

Quenelle Fri 22-Oct-10 09:44:30

My HV only visited twice; once a week after DS was born, and again 5 weeks later. She didn't even recognise me when I bumped into her at the clinic.

I'd have liked her to visit more frequently, I could have done with better advice about DS sleeping on his own than 'just make sure all his needs are met for now'.

I don't expect it's such a 'lovely' job when they come across children in real need of protection though.

Quenelle Fri 22-Oct-10 09:48:47

Ghostly I hope you're still here to read this; I don't think HVs are useless. And the HVs at my clinic appeared to be very well-trained and up to date in their knowledge of BF/BLW and weaning in general. I just wish one could have visited me more.

Quite frequently the less a mother needs an HV, the more dismissive they're going to be of their value. Same as any caring profession unfortunately.

Schroedinger Fri 22-Oct-10 19:46:14

I have given birth to two children in this country and I still find the HV system very very odd. I was never quite sure if it was a service for me/us or more the nanny state making sure parents are doing their job. The HVs I met where all nice people but I never got my head around the concept that, like it or not, someone just materialises on my doorstep to inquire after my baby. It is just a wee bit patronising. In many other European countries (who also have publicly financed healthcare, I might add) you would take up your children's health concerns with "your" usually hand-picked paediatrician. Advice on breastfeeding etc. in the first couple of weeks would come from your own midwife. All in all, much better trained HCPs and a lot more of them.

jaffacake2 Fri 22-Oct-10 20:40:53

Schroedinger- A HV is part of the primary health care team who works with GPs and MWs. She is commissioned by the NHS as a trained nurse to visit every baby born in UK. This isnt to "inquire" after the baby but will do an assessment of the familys health needs.Then will follow up on families who have extra needs which will affect the child's health ie housing,parenting or developmental needs.

Why would you see that as patronising?

In your country are the assessments by paediatricians private paid or state funded?

What happens to vulnerable families ? Are they catered for ?

onceamai Fri 22-Oct-10 20:46:06

Jaffa (and Ghostly) I think you sound like lovely ladies and I wish either of you had been my HV. I might not have ended up in the state I did. But that doesn't mean others should have received inadequate care and it doesn't mean that the system should not be delivered more honestly than it is at present. I would wholeheartedly support a proper review to ensure quality standards and that care was properly directed and that every new mother in the UK was given a clear definition of what a HV was expected to provide and when. Is that really such a problem?

jaffacake2 Fri 22-Oct-10 20:54:56

No what I dont understand is why so many people still hold an unrealistic opinion of what HVs are commissioned to do. That is the fault of individual HVs who are not open with parents about the service.

When I see my families at 8wks for a family needs health assessment I explain what the core HV service is available to them ,contact telephone advice,open clinics and a home visit if they feel there is a bigger problem they need to talk through.
Then I explain which families receive the targetted service out of the 580 families I cover.
I think thats why I get upset by these sorts of threads,its frustrating to read the annoyance of so many people when I know what a crucial job it is to vulnerable children.

reallytired Fri 22-Oct-10 21:11:00

The health visitor system has worked well for many years. It has helped many families including my own.

I think that a review is needed in what health visitors should do and how their services should be delivered. For example many families have two working parents and its hard to access clinic.

Should babies be weighed so much. Many mothers get their babies weighed excessively and this leads to anxiety about weight gain.

I would like health visitors to mix with their communites more. I am sure other people would have ideas how this might be done.

This is happening with the breastfeeding cafe and there are groups for young parents and special needs run by health visitors. I would like to see more of these drop in groups. Prehaps covering areas like potty training, sleep, developmental worries. Support groups are a good way of helping a large group of mothers. The mothers also support themselves and make friends.

For example a breastfeeding cafe with 10 mothers and one health visitor and one nursery nurse is a good use of time. If the health visitor sees the same mothers each week then she spot depression.

When a health visitor makes a home visit I think that the time needs to be more focussed. For example a listening visit where a health visitor talks incessantly about her family is a bit of a waste of time. Sometimes too much parenting advice can reduce the confidence of a mother. It can lead to learned helplessness.

A good health visitor will empower a mother and boost her self esteem. However even the best health visitor is not a mind reader. She needs to know what you want from her.

Quiltingghostie Fri 22-Oct-10 21:13:37

I started off wondering what the point of my hv for ds2 was and thinknig she was pushy but she has been lovely. I've got parkinsons and she got me appointments with a Parkinsons nurse, physio and OT without making me feel i wasn't coping, I was coping but she made it much easier for me to enjoy DSrather than just hang on in there. She supported me while i battled to keep up bf' ing until even i accepted that it was best for me and ds to start taking the meds. Marvellous woman.

soxhound Fri 22-Oct-10 21:28:48

Couldn't HVs make it clear that the service isn't compulsory, if indeed it isn't? If you can say 'no thanks' without being put under suspicion, it would help to know that.

jaffacake2 Fri 22-Oct-10 21:34:54

soxhound- why would you not want a visit following the midwives discharge? Cant really see why people would not want the service especially as it is fairly minmal unless there are problems.
Parents can then chose whether they want to come to clinic or not. Alot of my parents only use Hv service for a few months but always know that I will phone back if they have a query later on.

dizzyem Fri 22-Oct-10 21:36:29

I can't really comment on my first HV because I was lucky if I saw here more than twice but the other ladies on outr HV team were really good - apart from the daft comment made on your baby looks orange you're giving her too much carrot!

My second HV is absolutely fantastic and was soooo supportive after birth of DD2. She has been brilliant and I've just foudn out she has left the team and wholst the others are still really good, I am sad that she has moved on.

Just like other health professionals they are totally overstretched as a service and I'm sure that they would like to have more contact with families than they have but just simply don't have the time - just like alot of other professionals in their work too.

Before DD arrived I thought that I wouldn't want a HV to invade my house, I would be fine and not need anything from the HV. Things didn't turn out the way I thought they would and I haven't been mobile enough to get DD to any clinics. The HV has been twice so far and will be back again. She is lovely and has the time that a GP might not to answer all of my questions. She also encouages me to look after myself and see my GP if necessary.

dizzyem Fri 22-Oct-10 21:41:38

I also agree with reallytired in terms of focussing the service and the breastfeeding cafe service.

Care needs to be taken in terms of focussing the service however as 2nd time round I was deemed to be a cpompetent mother and was told you'll be fine, you know what you're doing now its number 2. what they didn't bank on was my little bundle of trouble who made everything trickier than it ought to have been and knocked my confidence soo much that I felt like I'd never had a baby before in my life (depsite the 4 yr old evidence running round in front of me). My HV made me feel that i could cope and supported me magnificently :-)

soxhound Fri 22-Oct-10 21:41:57

So is it not compulsory?

jaffacake2 Fri 22-Oct-10 21:44:46

No its not compulsory- just say you dont want the service. Then get on with it.

reallytired Fri 22-Oct-10 21:58:59

If you were in charge what changes would you make to the health visiting service. How would you make it promote good public health rather than being the baby police?

How would you improve things? How should the service develop in the 21st century? How shoud it be modenised? Especially as the pressures faced by parents are different to our granparents.

Even the nicest of mothers can be difficult. (Especially when mentally ill) It is a skilled job and is more than weighing a cute baby.

Rebbie Fri 22-Oct-10 22:08:48

I went to see my HV today and almost lost the will to live. Apparently my DC2 is fat, short and has a small head. I'm sure that's not the case but that seemed to be the jist of it. She told me to cut out his biscuits (he doesn't eat them) and give him a balanced diet (I do). Then she told me he has dry skin and I had to see the GP! Hilarious waste of time.

gaelicsheep Fri 22-Oct-10 22:14:58

None of the HVs on this thread have answered my question about whether HV records are routinely transferred between areas along with medical records - if not, why not? Nor my questions about how it is possible to identify vulnerable children by waiting for their parents to contact you?!

gaelicsheep Fri 22-Oct-10 22:17:22

Yes, it would be very very useful if HVs, and community MWs for that matter, could prescribe basic medicines instead of just referring you to the GP (which for us is a 40 mile round trip). Why can they not do this?

cerealqueen Fri 22-Oct-10 23:59:14

Before DD was born, I'd freak out about how I'd know what to do with the baby. I'd have a moment of sheer panic and then think, its OK the HV will be coming around every two weeks for the first five years. (or some ridiculous idea I must have got from watching medical dramas on TV). This consoled me enormously. I had nobody, no mother or sister to ask. When I realised how little they would come round I was gutted.

In reality, mumsnet has been invaluable for a lot of advice.

However, we do live in an area where the HVs are valued, and they are resourced, and when I have gone to them they have been great, on the whole very supportive and we had the 8 month checks which mums in neighbouring boroughs have not had and I have hears some awful stories from them about how rubbish their HVs are.

So, while they did not live up to my (unrealistic) expectations, when properly resourced and valued, they are invaluable. IMHO.

Schroedinger Sat 23-Oct-10 09:43:22

jaffa my point is that the assumption should be that parents are capable of 'assessing their health needs'. The paediatricians are state-funded, everyone has one. I know that in the UK there is this assumption that because healthcare is state-funded, it can't be state of the art. Well, I disagree its a matter of how much as a society you are willing to pay for it. As for vulnerable families, children get a health pass (in fact the mother gets one when she is pregnant) which lists all the check ups with the paediatrician and if I am not mistaken they are linked to financial incentives to make sure every child is seen.

I think onceamai makes a good point, that there are some hvs who should be in capability proceedings, and dismissed from their jobs. They give the service a bad name.

Unfortunately, there are failing employees throughout public services and whilst (as a Local Authority employee) I've occasionally seen disciplinary proceedings, never have I seen anyone hauled up for failing to do their job properly. Even when it is patently obvious to all that an employee is incompetent. Why is this? I know NHS is different to LA, but my mum is a retired nurse and sounds from her like there are similar issues in NHS

Rusty06 Sat 23-Oct-10 12:40:47


I just had to post in response to this thread I am health visitor but now work as a NHS manager managing HV services in a part of central London. Health visitors can have between 300-600 under 5's on their caseload they visit all families to make an initial assessment those with no additional needs are then offered the core child health promotion programme which is usually new birth visit, 8 week post natal review, 8 mont and 2-2 1/2 year developmental review. The rest of their time is spent at child health clinics and visiting vulnerable families which includes child protection of which here is lots in most areas of London. In terms of indvidual practice all are registered as nurses and then have additional regiterable qulaification as a HV and yes they must keep up to date. If you are concerned about your HV you must report and feed back as its impossible for managers to know what has been said to each individual mother and family.

Rusty06 Sat 23-Oct-10 12:46:00

Have not read all the thread but have just seen that some more HV's are part of the discussion which is good In answer to gaelicsheep all HV records are transferred to the next HV in another area if the HV service knows about the move which isn't always the case. Most HVs are also qulaified to prescribe from a limited list of medications

pintyblud Sat 23-Oct-10 12:51:05

I really appreciated my HV after having dd2. She always visited me at home, phoned me up, encouraged me. I went through a fairly shit time and I just appreciated her being around.

pintyblud Sat 23-Oct-10 12:54:12

And to HVs like ghostly, don't feel bad. I've not read much of the thread but if this has been a rather unpleasant shredding of a particular profession, then it happens regularly on mn. Don't take it personally.

onceamai Sat 23-Oct-10 13:04:08

Rusty O6 I'm going back a long time but when I referred my HV to her boss the boss was as incompetent if not more incompetent than the HV in the first place, and a million times more patronising. I had to take it all the way to the CEO of what was then the community health trust before even getting a definition of the hv's role. I still chuckle that the boss told me that the hv's role was to make sure I was communicating enough with my baby to make sure he developed speech. She on the other hand appeared to have grave difficulties understanding what I told her and following my instructions, ie, I wanted no further contact with the HV service after the sheer incompetence I had already suffered. From this thread not very much appears to have improved and unless there is a root and branch review the situation will continue to be a dishonest waste of public money.

I was not prepared to be part of blanket coverage if the service provided was not capable of doing what it said it would do and did not provide me with a benefit. Why else would I accept a visit, no courtesy of making a mutualy convenient appointment, and waste an hour of my time. The "service" has to be worth having if it is to continue. I really don't think it's unreasonable if an HV instructs women to b/f and to immunise to expect the HV to be able to provide evidence based up to date advice about the subjects they are bullying instructing about.

Rannaldini Sat 23-Oct-10 14:05:10

utterly pointless and without knowledge
very concerned about how i would know if my baby would "get enough" breastfeeding
the weight gain
pink little sausage was a good indicator to me
(and the baywatch boobs)

total total waste of money and everyone i know feels the same way
community midwife was a totally other experience scrap hv and more money for cm please

soxhound Sat 23-Oct-10 14:18:38

Each HV should give the mother visited a feedback sheet to state how helpful or distressing the visit had been. This is done in all kind of other areas of life, and it would cost very little indeed. There is clearly a need for it. The sheets would of course have to be anonymous to avoid repercussions.

It would highlight the need for HVs to have knowledge of their subject, as midwives have.

soxhound Sat 23-Oct-10 14:19:25

Or just scrap the service altogether, as Rannaldini says.

reallytired Sat 23-Oct-10 15:01:33

I am puzzled why anyone would refuse the primary visit from a HV. Its understandable that hv might think that such a person is not right in the head or has something to hide.

I think that feedback sheets are a great idea. Positive feedback generated by NICE mums would make health visitors happier.

In my experience health visitors are better if you tell them how you want them to support you.

samay Sat 23-Oct-10 15:09:51

Message withdrawn

soxhound Sat 23-Oct-10 16:27:58

It is a problem if you're viewed as "not right in the head" if you don't want a visit from a HV.

sunfunandmum Sat 23-Oct-10 16:41:41

I didn't like my HV because she couldn't seem to give a straight answer to any of my questions (about BF problems and weight loss). I now realise that they can't give you the one solution that is going to work for you, they can just give you a list of pointers and options to see what works but you are the one that has to do all the work to find out ultimately what works. She definitely pressurised me to stop BF and start FF (which I didn't like), but she was the one who told me I had infective mastitis, who realised I was so exhausted I wasn't going to do anything about it, and that I was going to end up in hospital if I didn't. And she wouldn't leave the house until I'd made a GP appointment so I could get antibiotics, and then wouldn't go until I'd arranged breast pump hire so I could at least keep the milk following until I had sorted myself out. So without her I probably would have got so ill I wouldn't have been able to keep BF, so I am really grateful for that. So IME they are well worth it.

vegbox5 Sat 23-Oct-10 17:33:37

I am a health visitor and mother of three, 10, 8 and 4. If you're well, healthy, supported and coping then you probably don't need a health visitor. However, it is a universal service, and as such doesn't discriminate. It would free up a lot of my time only seeing those considered at greatest need, but then we would miss those families where a new baby is an unexpectedly huge strain. I have to re-register every year proving my worth to do so, and I have to maintain my professional knowledge and credibility. I would never be offended or rebuked if a mum knew more than me about something. In an internet age this is inevitable from time to time. I don't have all the answers and something that works for you might not for someone else. I have research, experience and failing that a bag of tricks to try...and then a robust shoulder to cry on. A lot of my work isn't clear to the outsider, and frankly isn't that nice, I could really shock you! It isn't all lovely cups of tea and weighing babies. I work pro-actively and assess health need and report to many masters, and yes I work with some wonderful staff and some less so, as in every profession. I am pleased to make a difference every day, however small, and hope those lucky enough to experience parenthood in a positive way continue to do so and those who are challenged know how to access the appropriate service, your HV will guide you to which one!!. Health visiting is the only service where you have to opt out! And I really don't like tea. smile

wouldliketoknow Sat 23-Oct-10 17:50:07

vegbox, is great that you do your ob proffesionally and sensibly, but i can tell you many stories, unfortunately. i went to the health clinic the other day, just to be told off by the health visitor because at 24 weeks i hadn't weanned my baby, and i won't be giving him baby rice, but fruit and veg, she tried to make me feel i was doing something wrong, luckily, i have no manners and no problem speaking my mind and telling her to limit herself to weight my baby and leave me alone, other 3 mums had strong words with her too. some people is just incompetent, but i am sorry to say i haven't meet many hv yet that i can say what a great job she does... i haven't meet any men doing it either...

allbie Sat 23-Oct-10 18:20:24

I worked very briefly with a health visitor as an assistant. I felt she worked jolly hard with some really thick as pig poo parents who needed all the input she could give. I left because I was really too narrow minded and couldn't bare to see kids left with the feckless twats they had been born too. I have had 4 DC's and found my HV's fairly useless with bfeeding and weaning advice so have always used my own initiative! Some folk are totally inadequate and need the HV input, most of us, luckily, don't.

vegbox5 Sat 23-Oct-10 18:59:34

Sounds a bit dodgy to me wouldliketoknow! I'm glad you stood up for your self. I cant imagine telling anyone off at all - ever. I would make it clear what my professional opinion is, in the face of accepted contemporary practice, (as kindly as possible, because if I didnt that would be negligent!) but in the end the parent has the final say - and quite rightly so, because you know your baby best. It does change hugely, however, when a child is NOT doing ok and is deemed to be in need of extra protection. It sounds as if your hv has a bit of power lust perhaps, or maybe for an opinion you trust..mum, friend another hv, but always keep your eye on your confidant's agenda and do what is right for you. Good luck.
Men dont do the job because it doesn't pay enough and is traditionally a woman's role. I've worked with two great male hvs, but they do do the job in quite a different way, for many reasons.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 19:01:24

wouldliketoknow- if you read back over this thread and look at my comments you will see what sort of week I have had as a HV. Not good,in a DV refuge,trying to deal with a drug addict neglectful mum of a 2yr old and most sadly of all spending a morning with a lovely mum and dad who requested to see me following the sudden cot death of their beautiful baby girl.

So I may appear not to know how many exact portions of avocado or buuternut squash for a 7mth old, one of the most irritating questions I got asked in clinic this week,but I am relentless in my job of protecting vulnerable child and comforting the bereaved.

None of you really understand the job,you just site your own experiences and some have said health visiting should go because of that.

I could say the same about Gps cos one missed my brothers terminal brain cancer. Or the paediatrician who minimised daughters scoliosis which she needed major spinal surgery for.
You shouldnt rubbish a whole profession because of a few.

FattyArbuckel Sat 23-Oct-10 19:02:18

My HV was kind, friendly and helpful but hardly a good use of NHS time and money. I would prefer to see this money spent on home physio appointments for all new mums like in France.

wouldliketoknow Sat 23-Oct-10 19:08:41

jaffa, hv are necessary, and very useful in situation where a kid is at risk, but some are quite power high, i think, i put mine as an example, trying to make me wean him early or give him baby rice is just ridiculous, a different story would be if she had found bruises on him, or something else worrying, she also refuse to measure his length, because the chart has five spaces to record, and i already used five, so he won't be measure again until one, she said... it is the first time i saw her, i hope she is not doing this clinic forever, otherwise i will change clinics.

wouldliketoknow Sat 23-Oct-10 19:09:33

sorry i used four spaces, i meant.

Lifecanonlygetbetter Sat 23-Oct-10 19:31:16

I was very underwhelmed by mine- she would make an appointment for 10am and then turn up nearly an hour late-very unprofessional. My son had a very distorted head and couldn't turn his neck to one side-she suggested lying him on his front despite all the advice at that time saying that babies should lie on their back to avoid cot death.

Second child screamed non-stop- HV had no advice, and took the view that as an experienced mother I could cope. At 12 months she wouldn't eat -HV said I was exaggerating-child must be eating more than 2 mini yoghurts a day- she wasn't but HV would not believe me. I told HV I felt really low-she said that it was just the baby blues (at 13 months!!). When second child was 3 I had a massive breakdown- psychiatrist said that it was undiagnosed PND. I was relieved when we moved house after the breakdown and I thought I didn't have to see her again. Unwittingly we had moved into the village where she lives!

mamatomany Sat 23-Oct-10 19:39:14

"So I may appear not to know how many exact portions of avocado or buuternut squash for a 7mth old, one of the most irritating questions I got asked in clinic this week,but I am relentless in my job of protecting vulnerable child"

So basically you consider the parents who give a shit to be an irritation and distraction from the parents who are neglecting their children ? Should you not have gone into social work then if you feel that is what the role is about instead of sneaking into peoples houses under the pretense of being there for all new mothers ?
I guess at least we all know where we stand now.

reallyTired There are all sorts of reasons someone might refuse a first visit from an HV which have nothing to do with their mental health. I didn't want an HV to visit me because I was staying with my in-laws and it seemed rude to invite other people into their home.

Even if I'd been in my own house, I would have been reluctant because I don't really like having strangers in my home. With kids I'm even more protective of my personal space.

The idea that if you aren't prepared to have a stranger come into your home when you have a new baby you have something to hide or aren't "right in the head" shows a real inability to empathize with a broad range of people.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 19:51:27

mamatomany- think about how you would feel if you have just done a bereavement visit then had to answer questions like that in clinic? Yes I answered them with a smile but felt irritated because I am human and was drained emotionally.
I didnt go into social work because I am a trained childrens nurse and wanted to help children. But the job has changed over the years.

Oh by the way I never sneak anywhere.

mamatomany Sat 23-Oct-10 20:00:50

I would have either not done the clinic if i was emotionally drained or be thankful that was the only thing the avocado mother had to worry about.
Clearly the job has changed but the public seem not to have been informed of what your real role is, but now we all know, been done in an underhand way though if you ask me.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 20:10:37

I was quite capable of doing the clinic.Nurses are trained well at hiding their own emotions to carry on with the job.I learnt that as a sister of Paediatric ITU many years ago.

Sited the weaning as an example of what alot of the posts on this thread have complained about from their HV that she gave bad advise on weaning or on feeding. I am not minimising the importance of good advise but think that it could be given by a community staff nurse or nursery nurse. This is because there are not enough HVs to cover all the work and the most vulnerable situations are the ones which must be covered.

I do not hide the role from my caseload but due to confidentiality am not able to say sorry if Im off Ive just seen bereaved parents or a drug addict mum.

Caz10 Sat 23-Oct-10 20:25:56

"So I may appear not to know how many exact portions of avocado or buuternut squash for a 7mth old, one of the most irritating questions I got asked in clinic this week,but I am relentless in my job of protecting vulnerable child"

jaffacake2 if I was a mum who really wanted to know that and had asked my HV, I would hope that she could at least tell me where to find out!! But actually reading through this thread, and based on my own experience, the problem is not the HVs who don't know that, but the ones who would:
- berate you for giving avacado in the first place
- lecture you on missing the bloody made up weaning window by giving avacado at 6mths rather than baby rice at 4mths

etc etc grin! Obviously just a silly example, but it is not so mcuh the lack of knowledge that bothers me but the preaching of out-of-date and potentially dangerous information.

I know my dd was not neglected/at risk/being brought up by junkies, but if I had followed my HVs advice she would have lost a very dangerous amount of weight and probably been readmitted (at best).

mamatomany Sat 23-Oct-10 20:38:03

So basically jaffa you consider yourself too qualified to be doing the role as we the new mothers are to believe is that of a HV?
No wonder we are so confused as to what actually it is that HV do for their money, half of them have no interest in us and our children.

mamatomany Sat 23-Oct-10 20:39:45

"am not able to say sorry if Im off Ive just seen bereaved parents or a drug addict mum."

Unbelievable - how about just being professional and not being off ?

wouldliketoknow Sat 23-Oct-10 20:39:56

jaffa, i appeciate hvs have enormous case loads, but where exactly are the community nurses? not even once a hv had said to me: if you like a chat about weanning or how to start on solids this is how you access someone who has the knowledge and time to help you,... instead you normally get buy the heinz stuff for convenience, you don't wanna be cooking from scratch everyday, just for the baby
hmm i think i do...

reallytired Sat 23-Oct-10 20:42:42

"So I may appear not to know how many exact portions of avocado or buuternut squash for a 7mth old, one of the most irritating questions I got asked in clinic this week,but I am relentless in my job of protecting vulnerable child"

I suppose that a health visitor might be there to diagnose anxiety in a mum who worries excessively about weaning.

Unfortunatey, I offended a community nurse by refusing to have her visit me and talk about weaning. I was insistant that if a health professional was to discuss weaning with me that they needed the proper health visitor training.

The reason for this is that I have a history of anorexic tenancies. Weaning is a difficult part of parenting for me. Its also why the health visitor came out to me when my daughter had weight issues rather than me going to clinic.

My chidren are well looked after and I don't think I am thick as poo eitheer. If I am healthy then my children will be healthy. My health visitor keeps my family healthy by keeping me healthy,

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 20:45:11

Caz10- Im sorry that you were given bad advise which would have caused health problems for your child.
Sadly in my own family like I have said,we have had awful experiences with the NHS ranging from consultants,GPs and nurses.
There are poor practioners throughout but also some amazing ones.

I just wanted to put the other side to health visiting which I still feel committed to inspite of the changes and cuts to service which I know have upset many mums who have felt neglected.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 20:53:36

I have obviously upset a few of you by my comments on avocado. To clarify, I was not "off" with anyone,even though I may have felt irritated. That was because it was in sharp contrast to the bereavement visit I had done in the morning. I answered her questions,as I always do in clinics,with patience and a smile. Also enquired how she was feeling.
I would love to be able to do all the things I did when I started health visiting,weaning talks,postnatal groups,all of it. But with numbers of HVs at an all time low caseload numbers have tripled and I cannot do it all. So now its concentrating on vulnerable families,new babies,mums with PND,families with disabled children,parents with learning problems.

Caz10 Sat 23-Oct-10 21:00:13

jaffacake I hope noone is seriously offended by the avacado comment!! I am a teacher, and some of my pupils have real serious issues going on at home and in school - it can be exhausting dealing with them and then some parent can come in and tip you over the edge by demanding a half hour meeting to discuss what I am going to do about her precious child's lost must feel like that.

Again, not directed at you or any of the other HVs on here, but I am just aghast at what appears to be a lack of up to date training - if my HV was not qualified to advise on breastfeeding well fine, but she should have the sense to admit that and then show me how to access good advice.

reallytired Sat 23-Oct-10 21:05:38

Some parents are as barmy as a bed bugs. At least when a teacher sees a parent there are usually other adults in the building. Every school has its looney parents. Some schools in deprived areas or special schoos have more than their fair share of looney parents.

Just think all these looney parents were once visited by a health visitor on her own. They are brave people!

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 21:07:38

Caz10- Yes she should have had up to date training. In my area all HVs have had extensive breastfeeding training and do dropin breastfeeding clinics at the childrens centres and help with the one at the local hospital. I dont know what happens nationally with updates for HVs. There seems to be such a wide range of practices across the country which affects public confidence in the service.

Thank you for the comparison with your teaching experiences. It is hard isnt it to go to one extreme to another situation ?

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 21:09:18

I think I am brave being on mumsnet !wink

gaelicsheep Sat 23-Oct-10 21:14:48

Jaffacake - I understood exactly where you were coming from. And I guess it must be very frustrating when people think that you're only there to interfere and answer questions about avocado portions, when you're working in such difficult situations day in, day out.

Sorry to harp on, but Rusty that didn't really answer my question as to whether the HV records go with the medical records. Is it enough to register with a new GP to alert the HV service, or is separate notification required? If the latter, people need to know this!

gaelicsheep Sat 23-Oct-10 21:21:22

Also, I'm not sure if I said this before, but my current HV has been really good. I'm a little unsure about her b/f knowledge/advice but she has certainly been very supportive of me, and her observations and comments about me being a natural with DD and DD being really happy were just what I needed to hear when b/f was getting me down. Since I developed PND she has been really good, coming regularly to see me to talk and listen. DH has depression too (what a pair!) and she has persisted with offers of support in the form of an early years worker, which we've now taken up. It was tough to accept we needed help, but I feel she's handled it in a sensitve and tactful way. My initial fears that she'd be calling in social services were completely unfounded - thank God! So I completely do see the point of HVs in circumstances such as ours. And of course, without the routine visits, no one would have realised how much I was struggling and encouraged me to seek help.

FrozenNorth Sat 23-Oct-10 21:21:22

The thing that I struggled with in my encounters with HVs was their tenuous grasp of quite basic statistics. Most of them treated the 50th weight centile like it was a goal that everyone should try and attain as soon as possible. I even sketched out a normal distribution (bell curve) to try and explain to one why I thought it was perfectly fine that my DD was still on the 2nd centile (she'd been born on the 0.4th so to my mind she was doing great), and to her credit she was very interested but then spoiled it somewhat by saying that since the growth charts didn't look anything like a bell curve I'd probably got myself all mixed up biscuit

There was one lovely lady who ran our baby group though - she was great. She left to have her own baby and I remember her sobbing with happiness (and probably hormones) when we presented her with a bag of presents and cards on her last session. She was really into BLW, an ex-paediatric nurse so gave us all brilliant infant recus training, and exceptionally tactful. Last thing I'd heard, she'd left our clinic and was working part-time elsewhere. A big loss to the clinic.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 21:21:45

When a family register with a new GP the new Hv is informed then it is her job to contact the previous Hv to request notes.

TheGhostlyPirate Sat 23-Oct-10 21:30:07

I think you are wasting your time with some though jaffa - one or two here seem to be thick enough to condemn an entire profession based upon their experiences with a few HVs. I assume that they would do this with all midwives, GPs or paediatricians if they only met one or two who seemed incompetant.
Tbh they want to come and try the job before moaning about the pay and "waste of money" that HVs are. I think they may hotfoot it for the hills after a few weeks under the pressure I have experienced in the last couple of weeks.
I have no issue with anyone moaning as I have read shocking advice here as given by some HVs but I do get irritated by the "well my HV/my friend's aunt's sisters HV was thick/outdated/cold so they must all be a waste of money" brigade.
Change the record why don't you and educate yourselves before condemning us - you may find we do not have the easy ride that you think we do. Tbh after the past week I am tempted by job hunting and "Xmas assistant in M+S" is looking tempting.

So - yes - not at my best at the moment but I will still have a smile and be professional at work next week, missing all the normal stuff as usual and spending half the week in the local social services building. I will explain yet again to the 15 year old why weaning is at 6 months and extol the fun of baby led weaning while knowing that her mother is going to wean the baby at 16 weeks. I will get the breastfeeding counsellor in to support other mothers and the nursery nurse and infant massage teacher in to support another family with colic. I actually LOVE my job and despite the pressure and the desire at times (like now) to find another job I probably wouldn't swap it for the world because when I make even a little bit of positive difference it's worth it. When I help a mother believe in herself through depression it's worth it. The job itself is worth doing and worth doing well - if the funding was there I could do much much more.

TheGhostlyPirate Sat 23-Oct-10 21:34:22

Oh don't get me started on centile charts frozennorth. Most HVs trained without doing any epidemiology - the training ver the past 10 years has included this so HV NOT understanding them is clearly incompetant. I always educate the mother about the charts so she will know if she's told rubbish.

I get very frustrated on here when I see mothers of perfectly healthy babies who have been told to "top up" because the baby has gone from the 75th line to the 25th over a space of 20 odd weeks. No - that's NOT abnormal in an otherwise healthy baby and if the baby was NOT healthy I think often his/her Mum would know.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 21:43:06

Hi Ghostly,a fellow HV to help fly the flag for the service!
Sorry you too have had a bad week. Its probably not good for our heart rates to go onto MN but somehow strangely compulsive to argue for your profession.
Take care out there in some tricky homes.
Came across a large loose snake this week in someones living room. Frightened me nearly senseless!shock

reallytired Sat 23-Oct-10 21:44:47

I am surprised that health visitors post on mumsnet, you would think they would be sick to death of daft mums.

Ha! Ha! At least no health visitor will see me at a baby clinic asking stupid questions about advocardo. I'm was far to scared of crowds. Going to clinic gave me panic attacks. I got over it, but it made going shopping in Tescos a challenge at the time.

My health visitor tells me that in her experience there is a fine line between high levels of intelligence and madness. She is clearly an intelligent woman, prehaps she is mad as well.

jaffacake2 Sat 23-Oct-10 21:45:52

G&t calling with X factor bye !