‘It depends what you class as vulnerable’: risk discourse and the framing of vulnerability in health visiting policy and practice

Caroline King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Policy change, a decade ago, saw a shift towards a more targeted health visiting service, focused on supporting vulnerable families. Health visitors, similar to child and family nurses in other countries, work with families with young children. In this article I draw on a study that explored the policy shift described, to critically examine the framing of vulnerability in health visiting practice. The article is informed by analysis of interviews with 16 health visitors and 20 mothers, as well as my own reflexive account as a mother. The findings suggest that health visitors’ practice is both shaped by a risk discourse and that they resist this discourse; and that a risk discourse can act to silence vulnerabilities for mothers. As health visiting continues to evolve, a reframing of how vulnerability is enacted within health visiting could prove a difficult, yet, important, move in the provision of family support.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFamilies, relationships and societies
Early online date15 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • risk discourse
  • policy and practice
  • health visitors

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