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Talking about childhood experiences with health visitor enriches relationships and gives health improvement for whole family

A new report, published by Public Health Wales today (03.06.21) suggests that when health visitors enquire about caregiver’s adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) as part of their routine visits, a series of positive benefits are found by all parties.

These include supporting the mental and physical health of the caregiver, and developing an enriched relationship between health visitor and caregiver that results in the caregiver being more likely to feel comfortable discussing other issues in the future.  

Commissioned by the Welsh Government, this report builds on a previous pilot scheme conducted in Anglesey. This larger scale report used a trainer-facilitator to work with Health Visitors (HVs) at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Swansea Bay University Health Board to design and deliver an approach to asking, mothers and fathers about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) within routine health visiting contacts (known as ‘ACE enquiry’). Public Health Wales was commissioned to evaluate this mid-scale pilot programme.

Key findings from the study were:

  • Despite health visitors’ concerns over a potential negative response, the offer of ACE enquiry was very well received, with 9 out of every 10  caregivers agreeing to participate in the pilot, across all three sites
  • Over 40% of caregivers with any ACEs said the ACE enquiry pilot was the first time they had told a professional or service about these experiences, with first disclosure most common among male caregivers (55.1% of males with ACEs).
  • 4 in every 5 caregivers that provided feedback agreed that their Health Visitor got to know them better by asking about their childhood experiences and 85% suggested the intervention had made them more likely to discuss other issues with their Health Visitor in future. So the quality of their relationships and service they received had improved.
  • Caregivers who received ACE enquiry were significantly less likely to report experiencing parental stress (at six months post-partum), when compared with those who had not taken part in ACE enquiry.

The full press release can be viewed here.