Olushola Babatunde, health visitor, Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust
Friday, November 16, 2007
Olushola Babatunde loves her job most when the advice she gives to parents pays off and a happy, healthy baby bounces into one of her clinics.
“It’s especially good when we do new birth visits and the mums follow our advice about breastfeeding and other matters,” she says. “When you see the baby thriving, and it has no allergies, no rash, no eczema and is the right weight, then we celebrate the success.”
As a health visitor, health promotion is a staple of Babatunde’s day-to-day work in supporting families with children under five. From the time the child is in the womb to the time they’re three and a half years old, Babatunde carries out a series of six checks, at home or in group child health clinics at the local children’s centre.
She encourages women to learn to breastfeed, stop smoking, and screens them for postnatal depression. Over time, she monitors the baby’s weight, ability to smile and manipulate objects such as a pencil. She checks they are learning to sit up, crawl, walk and eventually run.
Babatunde also runs health promotion groups on preventing accidents, weaning, and minor ailments, teaching parents about coughs, colds and skin problems. The biggest challenge is following up often complex child protection cases where parents use drugs, suffer from domestic violence or have a learning disability.
“Some of them don’t meet social services’ threshold so the onus is on me to support the family. It can be a lot of extra work alongside other cases,” she says.
She often works with other agencies. In one case, a phone call from Babatunde to the housing department meant a family with a baby living in a run-down flat with a needle embedded in the sofa received new furniture the next day.
“The mother was very happy. She said if I hadn’t intervened, things wouldn’t have changed so quickly.”
Babatunde qualified as a nurse and midwife in Nigeria but did a conversion course in London before going on to work as a community staff nurse in east London.
Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust then awarded her sponsorship to do a degree in specialist public health and health visiting. For her next move, she’d like to take a Masters in public health and become a specialist health visitor, supporting babies with sickle-cell anaemia.
9am Arrive at office and check email and diary. Arrange next day’s work and delegate work to nursery nurses.
10am Visit a family and give a 10-day old baby its first assessment after leaving hospital.
11.30am Back to the office to write up the visit assessment and do some record keeping.
12.30-1pm Prepare for afternoon’s child health clinic.
1.30pm Run child health clinic where we monitor the group’s progress
4pm Back to office to write all my follow-ups from the clinic, updating my records and making referrals.
5pm Go home.