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Sharing is caring for student health visitors

Student health visitors from Brunel University London took part in the first conference of the North West London’s Community of Practice -  a new way of sharing knowledge and resources to support families with children under five.

As the academic lead for the practice, Brunel hosted the conference, which attracted more than 120 people. The next generation of health visitors - students on Brunel’s Specialist Community Public Health Nursing courses - were able to meet their future colleagues from across London, and the commissioners responsible for employing them.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Bill Leahy opened the conference commending a "fantastic initiative", recognising the "value of bringing the conference to Brunel".

Explaining the role of the Community of Practice, chair Sharin Baldwin from London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Health visiting leads and educators from across North West London meet every couple of months to share what’s happening locally in our communities, as well as news and research from across the country. It has worked really well so far.”

Lecturer for School Nursing and Health Visiting Elaine Tabony added: “Our course is half practice and half theory, so once our students secure their placements then they need to link their practice to the evidence that informs best practice. Being involved in this partnership is a huge benefit for them as they are contributing to debates about policy, and listening to and understanding different views.”

Mrs Baldwin added: “We can look at things from a different perspective, things we wouldn’t have considered. We can properly address training needs through Brunel. A lot of our students come from here and it helps us develop relationships with them and they get a wider perspective on how public health works in practice.

"For example, we recently introduced a new way to do two year olds’ checks, some places were using it and others weren’t. Rather than reinvent the wheel and to get consistency, we shared training slides and posters, problem solved how best to roll it out and looked at how information was collected. This saved us time and money.”

Set up in response to changes to the way public health was being delivered and the increased demand for health visitors, the Community of Practice brings together students and staff from Brunel with people from the following London trusts:

  • North West London (Ealing, Brent and Harrow)
  • Central London
  • Central and North West London
  • Hounslow and Richmond and Healthcare NHS Trusts.
Find out more about Communities of Practice here