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My Return to Home Visiting

As an Infant Mental Health Practitioner, I have recently returned to providing outreach early intervention clinical support to families in their homes, commonly called 'home visiting.' However, I much prefer to think of it as 'family visiting', as this reinforces the importance of relationships (within the family and with the family) in my practice. It seems typical in my field of work to spend less time directly with families as our career progresses and more time invested in managerial or strategic roles instead. I've found it highly motivating to venture back into this work. It has been around five years since I have had the privilege of providing services this way, so I have been reflecting on what it means to me.

"Walking up the pathway to their front door, I often wonder how the next hour will proceed."

My first reflection is on just how much I have missed it! It is impossible to describe the raw and precious moments I experience with the families I work with. Walking up the pathway to their front door, I often wonder how the next hour will proceed. I've learned the importance of being flexible, fast thinking, and solution-focused, as no matter how prepared I feel for the visit, I'm often met with a few surprises! The sometimes unpredictable environments I walk into require my initial plans to be placed on the back burner and for the more pressing issues to be dealt with first.

These reflections remind me of some colleagues in a previous workplace who completed a family visit resulting in one of them being asked to vigorously stir the gravy for the family's dinner, whilst at the same time, the other supported the mum in extinguishing a small kitchen fire! That experience, among many others, was undoubtedly one of the most memorable that came to mind.

Reflecting on these visits also reminded me of my own household and how I felt when my children were younger. Completing family visits transports me back in time as I am, once again, immersed in the world of parenting young children and babies. The parents' multitasking skills are tested to new means, as toys are everywhere, babies constantly need feeding, and toddlers' inquisitive minds prevail. I have such respect and admiration for the families I work with. I can recall thinking this stage of family life would never end, yet here I am, supporting other families in their transition to parenthood and strengthening families for the future.

This leads me to my final reflection, which is the vulnerability of the families accepting the presence of a stranger (me) into their home. Their openness and willingness to receive intervention work shows their commitment to the betterment of their child's life and their own lives. The transformation into being a new parent can be very challenging and overwhelming, but the honesty, transparency, and desire of these parents is selfless beyond measure and I feel privileged to be part of their journey.

I am excited to continue family visiting in 2023 through my business, with a focus on supporting as many families as possible this year with services to meet their individualised needs.

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