What Is It?
Going on joint visits is an important way to support home visitors. But you might wonder about the time involved. For example, the number of home visitors you supervise and other responsibilities you have and “hats” you wear may affect your ability to get out as much as you would like. You may also be carrying your own caseload of families! However, making the effort to go on visits with your staff has important benefits.
- For home visitors, joint visits can reduce the sense of isolation they often feel in their work (joint visits may do the same for you).
- Going on joint visits communicates to the home visitors that you value their work. It also communicates to the families that you value them, too.
- Through joint visits, families see that there is not only the home visitor but a team of people supporting them.
- Observing home visitors as they interact with families, whether or not you can get to every family in a home visitor’s caseload, gives you information about home visitors’ strengths and areas where they may need more support.
- Meeting and observing families gives you information about their hopes, dreams, and challenges and helps you work with home visitors to target support that assists families in reaching their goals or dealing with an emergency or crisis.
- When you accompany the home visitor, you have the opportunity to build your own relationship and develop trust with the family, which may be important if you need to step in during a home visitor’s absence or for some other reason.
Here are some strategies for conducting joint visits:
- Establish a schedule of periodic visits with each home visitor. You might set aside certain days or hours of the week to make the visits. This allows home visitors to discuss with families in advance that you will be there.
- For formal observations, use a checklist or formal tool to focus your observation. Make sure the home visitor has a copy of what you will use in advance and understands what you will look for.
- Share your observations with the home visitor. Encourage the home visitor to share her thoughts and feelings. Use the information as part of the home visitor’s ongoing professional development.
- Be available to go on visits outside of ones that are regularly scheduled if a home visitor asks for assistance to deal with an issue, for example, a questionable developmental screening result or a family emergency.
- Consider how technology might be used to attend a home visit virtually if being there in person is not an option. (Note that this will depend on the availability of hardware such as laptops, video cameras, or tablets for home visitors to use, Internet access in families’ homes, program policies governing use of technology, families’ consent, and other relevant issues.)