Excellence in practice – engaging with families at risk of domestic violence and abuse
Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) is a very common issue that impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and local communities. Living with or witnessing domestic violence is identified as a source of significant harm. It is important to remember that DVA can affect children (including unborn infants) which may consequently suffer from a range of health, developmental and behavioural difficulties.
Health visitors, as providers of universal health services in pregnancy and the first five years of life, are well placed to offer early DVA support to help the families who maybe at risk of, or experiencing, DVA. Health visitors are an integral part of the NHS. We have special training and experience in child health, health promotion and education. We offer practical support and advice in a host of diverse situations including DVA. If we are unable to help clients ourselves, we can direct our clients to the people who can.
Health visitors are skilled professionals who have knowledge about a range of DV-related issues and have contact with many other specialist practitioners in the following areas: alcohol and drug misuse, depression, disability, housing and homelessness. We are skilled in holistic assessment that incorporates being understanding, supportive, empowering and encouraging our clients to think about options. We are able to provide information, advice and intervention strategies to parents and their children. We enable our clients to access specialised services and support them in making the transition from being a victim to being a survivor. This has real potential to improve the health and well-being of children, families and communities. Your health visitor will be able to undertake a risk assessment, which includes the risk to the children and discuss the broader multi-agency response (Marac) without overburdening you. This is a monthly forum where multiple agencies get together to provide both a co-coordinated response and support for you and your children.
The specialist health visitor/DV lead represents our services at Domestic Violence forum and at Marac. The DV lead works closely with partners across communities, including local government, education, housing, the voluntary sector, faith organisations and many others to influence local public health policy as well as at national level by contributing to national training and Department of Health initiatives.
Weekly support is offered in two refuges in Harrow which involves developing new approaches to helping women and children in the refuge manage their own care, including all aspects of their health. It also includes tackling the impact of domestic violence on mothers' and children’ s health and emotional well-being.
We are here to help you and your family. You can contact your health visitor direct who can then arrange to see you at your home or at a local venue. Contacting your local surgery or health centre will put you in touch with a health visitor. Our aim is to help you lead as healthy a life as possible, both physically and emotionally.
For more specific advice please contact Tanya Dennis, domestic violence lead based at Honeypot Lane Clinic on 020 8951 1989.
Advice Service: Women and Girls Network
Compass Hidden Harm Service
Domestic-Sexual Abuse Help-lines
Barnado's Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix
Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA): Forced marriage
CAADA DASH risk assessment form
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance: Domestic violence and abuse
Tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK: intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting
Good Practice Guidance for School Nurses: Domestice violence and abuse
Good Practice Points: Domestic violence and abuse
Domestic and Sexual Violence (DSV) Risk and Referral Pathways
Health Impacts of Domestic Violence
No.5: Domestic Violence and Abuse - Professional guidance
Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC): Consent for information sharing
MARAC risk assessment form
MARAC referral form