Multi-professional educational sessions for Health Visitors caring for children with complex needs: evaluating contexts, mechanisms and outcomes

Alison Steven, Valerie Larkin

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


Background: Targeted multi-professional services are necessary worldwide for best care of children with complex needs. 15% of UK children under five have a complex long-term condition (Brooks 2013). Nursing and health visiting contributions are associated with better outcomes, however there is ongoing need for access to postregistration education (Cowley et al 2013). A 3 hour interactive multi-professional workshop for health visitors was developed and delivered in a community setting in the North of England. Aims: Drawing on a realist approach (Pawson and Tilley, 1997) this study explored contextual factors, mechanisms at play and short to medium term outcomes. Methods: Data collection (documentary, observation, interview, questionnaire) was undertaken at multiple points between June 2014 and May 2015. To identify, unpick and track context, mechanism and outcome configurations, analysis was iterative drawing on notions of constant comparison. Data workshops facilitated discussion, debate, challenge and agreement of findings. 17 Health Visitors participated (80%). Findings: Several temporally located contextual factors, mechanisms and outcomes emerged. A conceptual map will be presented and discussed. The development of ‘emotional safety for learning’ was important and involved mechanisms of reciprocity, interactivity and relevance. Short term outcomes included network development, informative learning and increased confidence. Medium term practice outcomes including accessing support and early referral were linked directly to workshop attendance. While the workshops positioned health visitors as learners and others as facilitators, the unanticipated question ‘who actually was the learner’ emerged to challenge underlying assumptions. Conclusion: The structure, context and facilitation of the workshops engendered various facilitatory and inhibitory mechanisms leading to a range of outcomes including practice changes. Learning can be taken from the workshop format and facilitation which may be transferable across contexts and continents.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2016
EventRCN 2016 Research Conference - Edinburgh, UK
Duration: 6 Apr 2016 → …


ConferenceRCN 2016 Research Conference
Period6/04/16 → …


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