SIS Bilingual Community Researchers helped some of our Service Users to complete an online Survey. The Brighton and Hove City Council survey asked about experiences of Health Visiting services in the city in 2022. The council commissions the local health visiting service and the responses will help to shape this service in the future. The Health Visiting services includes health visitors, staff nurses and nursery nurses. People are supported by them in their homes, at clinics, or by phone or video call.
Albanian, Arabic, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, and Turkish speaking Bilingual Community Researchers spoke to 19 SIS Service Users by phone to find out about their experience and complete the survey.
The importance of having an interpreter at appointments with Health Visitors was mentioned by most participants. Those who routinely had interpreters recognised the value of that in being able to fully understand and participate in their appointments.
‘I have been given lots of information that was very useful to know. Also, they do provide interpreter which was very important for me.’ Turkish speaking participant
In two cases, either no interpreter was provided, or a family member was relied on to interpret. This can lead to the Service User not getting the full or correct information from the practitioner, and not having a chance to communicate their own needs.
‘No interpreter was provided. My husband didn’t explain anything to me. He was answering questions from his point of view’ Albanian speaking participant
Some Service Users noted the difficulty for them in contacting the Health Visiting Service due to language barriers, although most felt that their Health Visitors were reliable at contacting them when scheduled. One Service User highlighted the good practice of using the interpreter at an appointment to help the Health Visitor to schedule the following one.
Many participants mentioned referrals made into other services by Health Visitors, such as speech therapy, physiotherapy, food banks, SIS social prescribing.
‘The HV gave us lots of support, they were our initial support, and we didn’t know anything about our child’s health condition. The support was very useful for us and our son, they activated all the system for appointments, tests, and diagnostics.’ Italian speaking participant
There were however some frustrations at the long waits for appointments at the services referred to, as well as suggestions for better communication between GPs, specialist services and the Health Visitors.
Participants often mentioned wanting more frequent visits from Health Visitors during the first couple of years, particularly for first-time parents. They felt that the appointments they did have gave them useful information, advice, and reassurance, and that was easier to access than through the GP.
SIS Service Users frequently lack the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the public conversation about how services are designed and delivered. Language, information, and knowledge of their rights are barriers to participation although Service Users have clearly stated their wish to have their voices heard in public service consultations. Thank you to our Bilingual Community Researchers and to all the people who kindly shared their experiences.
Two of the Service Users who participated in this survey were offered follow up support from SIS Bilingual Social Prescribers to help resolve issues brought up during the research.