I work in the town of Portlethen which is close to the local city of Aberdeen. It is quite an affluent urban area with a high population of young children. As a health visitor, I work with the families of under-5s, delivering the universal pathway, monitoring and reviewing child development and ensuring early intervention when concerns are raised. Within the Kincardine and Mearns local community three-year plan, the three main priorities for development are strong communities, connecting people, and wellbeing. There is a focus on inclusive community spaces and opportunities.
I qualified as a health visitor in 2014 and applied for my current post soon after. I absolutely love my job, helping to give children the best possible start in life, offering parenting support and advising on all aspects of child health. I am happy to go to work every day and I feel privileged to be welcomed into homes and build relationships. After settling into my role, I found I really enjoyed getting involved in improvement work. I believe that health visiting is key to the future of the NHS as we strive to promote better health and thriving communities. Two years ago, I applied and was awarded a place on NHS Education for Scotland’s Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions eHealth leadership course with a view to undertaking a project on launching social media pages for the health visiting team in order to better promote health and reach more clients. The first Aberdeenshire health visiting Facebook page was launched in May 2017 within the Kincardine and Mearns team. It is used to disseminate reliable, evidence-based information to the community. The page was audited in 2018 and received positive feedback and other areas of Aberdeenshire followed suit. By using social media, podcasts, videos, maybe even live streamed sessions in the future we can create a much more accessible way for these important messages to be delivered and in media that people can keep going back to access whenever needed. This will not replace face–to–face contact; it will enhance it. Via our social media we encourage attendance at groups and promote What’s On in local areas. My vision is that health and support for families is available in a range of ways so that the messages about promoting a healthy start to a child’s life are clear and effective.
The project has required good communication skills and a lot of tenacity as social media can make some senior staff within the public sector nervous. It is about searching for health needs and promoting health within online communities based where people are getting their information. For example, combating misinformation around vaccines to encourage uptake, sharing evidence-based information and promoting vaccine campaigns such as the flu campaign. I draw on my expertise in health visiting, child development, safeguarding and supporting families as I provide professional supervision and work in partnership with other agencies. The other skills that I need are to motivate and inspire, and that comes from the passion I have for health visiting’s central role in public health. I am proactive about developing eHealth initiatives and involve as many people as I can on this journey to ensure all children and families across Aberdeenshire have access information day and night on improving health, reducing inequalities in health and promoting wellbeing.
I’ve gained so much from the Queen’s Nurse programme, but most of all is an understanding that leadership is about bringing people along with you and being a role model. I am striving to make a difference to people’s health and wellbeing and using innovative ways of improving knowledge and understanding of key messages. But to make this sustainable, I know success will only happen when we work together. Becoming a Queen’s Nurse has shown me that I want to be the type of leader that motivates and inspires. Throughout the programme, I have worked to be a leader that encourages colleagues and wider team members to know their value, celebrate their achievements and really be encouraged to take forward ideas that will benefit children and families.