Programmes in health

October 2012

Here we highlight some of the key opportunities for those working in child accident prevention to integrate children’s safety into mainstream health programmes.

Healthy Child Programme: from 5-19 years oldHealthy Child Programme

The Healthy Child Programme is a comprehensive early intervention and prevention public health programme at the heart of all universal services for children, young people and their families. The evidence-based programme promotes integrated working and improved outcomes across all health and wellbeing priorities, with a major focus on parenting support.

The programme has three broad components:

Family Nurse Partnership

The Family Nurse Partnership is an intensive health visiting programme which makes an important contribution to the Healthy Child Programme, particularly in engaging with some of the most vulnerable young parents and families. The aim is for the number of families who receive this support to double by 2015.

An evaluation of the first ten Family Nurse Partnership sites in England shows that family nurses believe the potential impact of the programme on child injuries to be high. There is also evidence from the US of how such partnerships reduce childhood injuries. See the Evidence Base for Family Nurse Partnership leaflet for more information.

Practitioner guidance on working with pregnant teenagers and young fathers emphasises the importance of an empowering approach and accessible information.

Health visiting

Health visitors are at the heart of the Healthy Child Programme and the Family Nurse Partnership. Their health improvement role in Sure Start Children’s Centres includes accident prevention. Guidance for the health visiting team highlights opportunities to promote health and wellbeing by:

  • initiating conversations about healthy lifestyle choices
  • using strength-based approaches
  • making full use of ‘teachable moments’ – opportunities to tackle lifestyle facts when people are receptive.

See also People in Health.

Sure Start Children’s Centres

Children’s Centres have a vital role to play supporting families and children’s early years development, especially for those families who have the greatest need. Find out more about Children’s Centres.

In March 2012 new guidance was published to maximise the contribution of the school nursing team. The new service model is set within the Healthy Child programme 5-19 and includes a detailed pathway to strengthen the links and transition from health visiting to school nursing services.

Healthy Schools

In July 2010 the Coalition Government confirmed that Healthy Schools would continue, providing guidance to schools on the physical and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.

The organisation of Healthy Schools is changing – national, regionally and locally. The Healthy Schools approach is an online toolkit which is available to help schools ‘plan, do and review’ health and wellbeing improvements for their children and young people. A development programme for school nursing is also to be produced.

NHS LifeCheck

NHS Lifecheck is a free online health advice tool which gives information tailored to age, gender and lifestyle. It includes accidents in the home and childhood accidents.

Behaviour change

Promoting positive lifestyle change involves a range of action and interventions from developing individual confidence and supporting everyday lifestyle changes to adapting the environment to make healthier choices easier. The Behaviour Change Network aims to bring together the latest evidence and consumer insights on behaviour as one of the Responsibility Deal Networks.


Change4Life logoChange4Life is a society-wide movement which aims to prevent people from becoming overweight by encouraging them to eat better and to be more active. The involvement of children and families is an important part of the overall programme.

Healthy cooking and eating can incorporate basic kitchen and food safety, such as the location of knives and sharp objects and cooking safely, including taking care in handling hot drinks and hot oil.

Promoting more physical exercise, such as walking, swimming and cycling, provides practical opportunities to embed basic safety awareness without ‘wrapping children in cotton wool’. Improved safety and risk awareness can build confidence and encourage activity.

NICE has produced public health guidance on promoting physical activity for children and young people which includes safety considerations. The Health and Safety Executive has also published a statement on promoting a balanced approach to safety in children's play and leisure.

Change4Life incorporates:

  • Walk4Life and Bike4Life, which includes funding for Bikeability cycle training to teach children how to ride safely and confidently by the end of year 6 at school.
  • Play4Life which helps those working with families and children to support and encourage active play as part of a healthier lifestyle. The Play4Life resources includes ‘play safe’ guidance for ‘the safe outdoors’ and safe indoor play.
  • Start4Life which supports frontline staff to deliver the Healthy Child Programme. Baby movement, active play and ‘safe space’ are among the ‘building blocks’.

The Physical Activity Network

The Physical Activity Network has been established to develop pledges for action to assist people to become more physically active. It is one of the Public Health Responsibility Deal Networks.


Alcohol can impact on the lives of children and young people in many ways, including through associated poisoning accidents and road traffic injury. For more information see NICE guidance on alcohol reduction, including school-based interventions.

The Alcohol Network has been established to develop pledges for action to support people to drink sensibly. The network is working across its membership - which includes government, public health and local authority and industry representation – to agree initial pledges that will form part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal.

Substance misuse and smoking

The Department of Health website has information and guidance on the misuse of drugs for young people and parents. See also NICE guidance on preventing substance misuse.

As well as being a major health and wellbeing issue, smoking in the home is associated with increased fire risk from unextinguished cigarettes and the presence of matches and lighters. These smoking materials can also be used in deliberate fire-setting in the wider community. In 2007, there were 2,354 smoking-related fires in England resulting in 73 deaths and 789 injuries.

The following sites have useful information and resources on preventing and quitting smoking, and fire safety advice in relation to smoker’s materials:

Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England was published in March 2011.

Domestic violence and abuse

Guidance for health commissioners has been produced with the aim of improving health and wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable women and children who experience violence and abuse.

Updated June 2013