The role of the health visitor in working towards positive outcomes for neonatal graduates and their families: developing a home-based, early intervention for preterm infants.
Advances in perinatal and neonatal care have resulted in more preterm infants surviving to discharge home, particularly at lower gestations, with ongoing needs-based family support provided by community health teams. NICE guidelines for developmental follow-up of children and young people born preterm, state that community health professionals should have the skills and knowledge to identify and manage problems in preterm infants1.
Health visitors support the individual needs of these children and families, yet there is a paucity of research focusing on their experiences in practice. Current literature also suggests there are opportunities to improve home care and support of preterm infants and their families. My research focuses on the identification of key components for a home-based, early intervention, designed to optimise outcomes for preterm infants whilst meeting the perceived needs and priorities of parents and health visitors.
1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Developmental follow-up of children and young people born preterm [Internet]. [London]: NICE; 2017. [cited 2020 Dec 15]. (NICE guideline NG72).
My project is funded by Staff Training & Development, QUB.
What is your ideal Research outcome?
My ideal research outcome is that my findings will inform health visiting practice and have a positive impact on the home care and support for preterm infants and their families through the identification of key components of a home-based, early intervention which address the needs of both those who receive (preterm families) and deliver (health visitors) care
Dr Jenny McNeill, Dr Claire Kerr, Professor Fiona Alderdice and Professor Linda Franck.
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen’s?
I am currently undertaking a part-time PhD as part of my professional development as a member of staff in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, QUB. In my role as project manager I have been working as part of the Neonatal Intensive Care Outcomes Research and Evaluation (NICORE) team and joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery in 2011. I am an integral part of the Neonatal Network Northern Ireland (NNNI) contributing to the improvement of short and long-term outcomes for newborn infants and their families, by participating in an ongoing programme of research and quality improvement. The idea for this PhD originated from my work as part of the NNNI Parental Engagement Group. While reading literature around parents’ experiences of neonatal care, I identified a gap in evidence pertaining to health visitors’ and preterm parents’ perspectives on how to improve home care and support after discharge home and thus the seed was sown…
Prior to joining QUB, I worked within the health care environment both in the UK and abroad, managing service quality improvement within primary and secondary care settings and at the interface of care. I am Certified Professional in Health Care Quality (CPHQ) which is fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) in Washington, D.C. My educational qualifications include an MSc in Technology (Information Technology) and a primary degree in Biochemistry which have provided me with a firm foundation throughout my career.
How have you been supported at Queen’s?
As a part-time PhD student who is also working full-time it is important to feel part of the PhD community. The ongoing SN&M seminars and masterclasses combined with the postgraduate training programme have provided me with a comprehensive grounding in the skills required to be an effective researcher and the opportunity to network, exchange ideas and to learn in a supportive environment.
In what ways have you developed at Queen’s?
Undertaking a PhD in the SN&M has enabled me to go forward with confidence in my ability to be an independent researcher and to contribute to the evidence-base to inform policy, practice and ultimately to improve care.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen’s?
The postgraduate community in SN&M is comprised of an eclectic mix of individuals who bring a range of perspectives, knowledge and life experiences to the table providing an opportunity to learn from each other and help each other to complete the PhD journey…someone will always know the answer to your question!
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
Open up doors to new opportunities and challenges.
Anything else you would like to add or advice to new PGR students?
Constant dripping wears away a stone!