Case Studies

Developing best practice in the health visiting service

Added 12/03/2012


The national health visitor implementation programme published in February 2011 set out an expanded range of services which families should expect from health visiting teams by 2015.
Sustain was commissioned to drive an important six-month project to develop best practice pathways and a range of objective assessment and decision tools which would ensure health visitors were able to provide the best possible support for families in their care.

Key challenges
In order to realise our vision of developing an innovative and complete commissioning framework, we had to seize the opportunity to work with clinical staff and commissioners to identify the specific clinical outcomes necessary to measure the impact of health visiting interventions. It was essential for professionals to be placed at the heart of this process.
Input from clinicians would also be vital in developing objective assessment and decision tools which encapsulate the daily judgement calls made by health visitors when faced with children and families. As such, strong working relationships between all groups and a robust engagement plan would be crucial to the success of the project.

Main actions

It quickly became apparent that there was great enthusiasm for the project within the NHS, from both providers and commissioners alike. Keen to capitalise on this, Sustain encouraged all groups to work constructively together to meet the challenging timelines set out in the initial brief.
We quickly established two pilot sites where all aspects of the project could be tested and developed before carrying out further work to ensure a shared understanding of exactly what would be required to deliver the objectives.
With our partners, best practice pathways and appropriate evidence-based clinical interventions were developed. Pricing models were created, along with a capacity model which would help providers match demand for services against available resources.
We also created a comprehensive suite of provider and commissioner key performance indicators to help monitor the clinical effectiveness of individual or component parts of pathways, identify key areas for development and monitor the overall efficiency of the health visiting service.

Outcomes and achievements
Through close and effective partnership working, Sustain created a framework to support commissioning, along with a range of recommendations for further refining the tools in the short, medium and long term.  The project was delivered on time and on budget.
A comprehensive report giving feedback on the outcome of the project was prepared for the Department of Health and received commendations from across the health service.

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