Transformation of health visiting services in England using an Online Community of Practice

Faith Ikioda, Sally Kendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


At the heart of health visiting practice has been the emphasis on ensuring that healthcare services transferred to and commissioned by local authorities, deliver successfully on the Healthy Child programme. And while part of that focus has been on increasing numbers in the health visiting workforce, there has also been a renewed strategy in health policy to enhance continued professional development (CPD) of the workforce through innovative tools that will transform, improve and deliver services in response to the six high impact areas. This paper describes the use and evaluation of such a tool that was developed in the form of an Online Community of Practice to enhance and support practitioners to share issues, resolve recurring problems and collaborate to share best practices and robust evidence around the six high impact areas. The posts of 250 health visitors who shared, managed and co-produced knowledge online over a 2-year period were explored using realist evaluation techniques. Results showed that the success of online CoPs as interventions to improve and transform healthcare practice around the six high impact areas is promising. Participating in online discussion saved time and strengthened and improved support from peers that would otherwise be unavailable to geographically distributed practitioners. The advantage of a secure virtual environment allowed health visitors to discuss key issues arising from everyday practice as a coherent professional group, which in turn produced peer reviewed knowledge that prioritised clients’ needs in relation to local community needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-306
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Policy and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective learning
  • Evidence-hub
  • Health Visitors
  • Knowledge-sharing
  • Online Community of Practice


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