Health visitor: job description

Health visitor: job description

Health visitors are registered nurses who visit, support and educate families with children, from pregnancy to the age of five, promoting good health and preventing illness.
It is only possible to become a health visitor with a postgraduate degree in health visiting.

What does a health visitor do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Health visitors help families to maintain the health of young children. This often involves home visits. Key responsibilities include:

  • providing health advice and health education programmes
  • undertaking developmental assessments of babies and children
  • helping people come to terms with their illnesses, such as post natal depression
  • establishing and addressing key health needs
  • referral to and liaison with other relevant organisations

Typical employers of health visitors

Most health visitors are employed by the NHS and GP practices.

Vacancies are advertised on the NHS website, in newspapers and in publications such as Nursing Times, both online and in print.

Qualifications and training required

It is only possible to become a health visitor with a postgraduate degree in health visiting. To be accepted on a postgraduate course, candidates must already be registered nurses or midwives. Qualification as a nurse or midwife is achieved via a nursing degree course, lasting three or four years. Those who have already completed an undergraduate degree in subjects such as life, health, biological or social sciences can qualify via a shortened two-year nursing course. Nurse First, a pilot two-year fast-track programme for graduates who want to enter nursing, has recently been launched by NHS England, and combines hands-on experience and training with an educational course. The scheme's initial focus is training mental health and learning disability nurses.

There is strong competition for health visiting course places. Relevant caring experience in a care home or hospice can be helpful.

Key skills for health visitors

Resourcefulness and effective verbal communication and listening skills are essential. It is important to possess a mature, confident and caring manner. All candidates must be of good health and fitness. There are criminal record restrictions.