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The case for collaborative learning: Introducing opportunities in the higher education setting

02 April 2016
6 min read
Volume 24 · Issue 4


Public Health England and the Department of Health (2015) have documented that parents are requesting consistent professional advice throughout pregnancy and the early weeks following birth, as their care is transferred from midwives to health visitors. In addition, commissioners are increasingly seeking to integrate services to provide joined-up care and improve health outcomes for parents and families. This paper discusses the benefits, to both parents and health professionals, of collaborative working, together with the challenges faced by midwives and health visitors in the current climate. It explores the benefits of collaborative learning between the two disciplines in the higher education setting, with an example of a successful collaboration at the University of Central Lancashire.

There is evidence that parents want information and services around pregnancy and birth to be consistent and seamless, with different agencies and departments within health care working together, and with the family at the centre of service delivery (Public Health England (PHE) and Department of Health (DH), 2015). The 1001 Critical Days report (Leadsom et al, 2013) documented that effective, individually designed service delivery can positively affect health outcomes for women, babies and families.

Midwives and health visitors, with their expertise in child and family health, are best placed to meet the needs of families during pregnancy and the early years (DH, 2009; Bennett, 2014; Brunton et al, 2015). However, parents' experiences of service delivery in the perinatal period often describe health visiting and midwifery as separate, non-communicative services (Donetto et al, 2013). There is plenty of evidence to support collaborative working between health professionals, particularly where this will benefit the health outcomes for children and families (Gerrard et al, 2011). However, there is also evidence to demonstrate that, in practice, collaboration between midwives, health visitors and other health professionals does not always occur (Donetto et al, 2013; Calvert, 2015).

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