Innovative e-training materials support the training of student health visitors

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Mother and newborn baby

‘Think Baby’ is an innovative online learning resource for student health visitors helping them to build their skills in assessing mother-infant interactions.

The tool was developed by Professor Jane Appleton and other colleagues from Oxford Brookes University, and helps teach students about the importance of early interaction between parents and babies, ensuring they can go on to confidently use these skills in a practical setting.

Jane Appleton, a Professor in Primary and Community Care, is one of the recipients of the University’s Research Excellence Awards. The Awards were launched last year as part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting research-active academics and in supporting the aims of the recently revised Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020.

The funding is giving her the opportunity and time to complete a project to expand these e-training materials for use with trainee social workers and midwives.

‘Think Baby’ was first developed in 2012, and in 2013 with funding from Heath Education England (HEE) North Central and East London, was rolled out to 650 student health visitors at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across London. Further funding from HEE Thames Valley towards the end of 2014 saw it rolled out to student health visitors at HEIs across the UK, and this work continues.

Substantial groundwork on this has already been completed and I will now have the opportunity to take this forward. This will include continued liaison with NHS Trusts and also piloting and examining the feasibility of cascading to other professionals, particularly in light of national discussions about the education and training of social workers.

Professor Jane Appleton, Professor in Primary and Community Care, Oxford Brookes University

The messages embedded in ‘Think Baby’ are straightforward to learn and implement, with immediate application to the Government’s cross-party, 1001 Critical Days Manifesto launched in October 2013 and the Department of Health’s (2009) Healthy Child Programme (HCP).

Since its roll out to students there has been considerable interest in the ‘Think Baby’ e-training materials from NHS Trusts across the UK wanting to upskill their qualified health visiting workforce. Discussions have also begun with colleagues to look at the transferability and use of ‘Think Baby’ to trainee social workers and midwives.

Professor Jane Appleton said: “Substantial groundwork on this has already been completed and I will now have the opportunity to take this forward. This will include continued liaison with NHS Trusts and also piloting and examining the feasibility of cascading to other professionals, particularly in light of national discussions about the education and training of social workers.“

REA logo 2016

Jane will also be using the funding from the Research Excellence Awards to complete a secondary project – an international research collaboration with six countries on risk assessment in safeguarding children and young people.

Over the last 18 months she has developed links with public health nurse researchers in the UK and internationally. The research will involve partners from a number of countries likely to include Finland, Ireland, Australia, Japan and Canada.

Professor Appleton will lead a proposal to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It is anticipated that if successful, the research will examine risk assessment methods from the six countries and make explicit the approaches used to develop new cross cultural insights and deeper understandings about risk assessment practices by public health nurses with children and families across the world.

She has also recently been awarded the Florence Nightingale Foundation Dr JP Smith Travel Scholarship 2016-2017, for a study tour to the Nordic countries and Finland. Later this year she will undertake the visit to find out more about public health nurses work in safeguarding and protecting children in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Safeguarding child wellbeing: the public health role of health visitors

Join Professor Appleton for a free open lecture taking place on Wednesday 7 June 6.00pm-7.00pm at Headington Campus in the John Henry Brookes Lecture Theatre. Drawing on research, she will make the case for why we need health visitors to promote child welfare and wellbeing.

For more information and to book visit the Events website.