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Handle With Care: Confessions of an NHS Health Visitor

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Health Visiting is one of those professions that most people think is a bit of a non-job. 'You just sit on sofas and drink tea, don't you? It's not like you're a real nurse, in hospital.' Well, Health Visitors are real nurses, with at least three years' training, and they are out there, on their own. No back-up team or support structures to call for help if they're in a dic Health Visiting is one of those professions that most people think is a bit of a non-job. 'You just sit on sofas and drink tea, don't you? It's not like you're a real nurse, in hospital.' Well, Health Visitors are real nurses, with at least three years' training, and they are out there, on their own. No back-up team or support structures to call for help if they're in a dicey situation. No warm lights, tea breaks spent chatting in the canteen, nobody else to ask, 'is this okay, what do you think?' Over 40 years working in the NHS, Rachael Hearson has been chased down an isolated stairwell by crack-fuelled drug-addicted pimps, threatened by a knife-wielding wife-beater in a hostel, unwittingly visited a brothel... And that's just the tip of the iceberg.


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Health Visiting is one of those professions that most people think is a bit of a non-job. 'You just sit on sofas and drink tea, don't you? It's not like you're a real nurse, in hospital.' Well, Health Visitors are real nurses, with at least three years' training, and they are out there, on their own. No back-up team or support structures to call for help if they're in a dic Health Visiting is one of those professions that most people think is a bit of a non-job. 'You just sit on sofas and drink tea, don't you? It's not like you're a real nurse, in hospital.' Well, Health Visitors are real nurses, with at least three years' training, and they are out there, on their own. No back-up team or support structures to call for help if they're in a dicey situation. No warm lights, tea breaks spent chatting in the canteen, nobody else to ask, 'is this okay, what do you think?' Over 40 years working in the NHS, Rachael Hearson has been chased down an isolated stairwell by crack-fuelled drug-addicted pimps, threatened by a knife-wielding wife-beater in a hostel, unwittingly visited a brothel... And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

30 review for Handle With Care: Confessions of an NHS Health Visitor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    We follow Rachel's career through the NHS and her personal life. It tells us what it's like to,be a health visitor for over thirty years. The stories she tells are about real cases. It's clear Rachel loves her job. This is quite a thought provoking read . It does seem to focus ore on Rachel's personal life than her career in the NHS. There's some sad and funny tales and shows how the services provided evolved. It's quite an easy book to read. I would have liked there to be some more tales of case We follow Rachel's career through the NHS and her personal life. It tells us what it's like to,be a health visitor for over thirty years. The stories she tells are about real cases. It's clear Rachel loves her job. This is quite a thought provoking read . It does seem to focus ore on Rachel's personal life than her career in the NHS. There's some sad and funny tales and shows how the services provided evolved. It's quite an easy book to read. I would have liked there to be some more tales of cases she's had to deal with. I would like to thank NetGalley, Mirror Books and the author Rachael Hearson for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    We follow Rachael's career through the NHS and her personal life. It tells us what it's like to be a health visitor for over thirty years. Thrnstories she tells are about real cases. It's clear Rachael loves her job. This is quite a thought provoking read. It does seem to focus more on Rachael's personal life than her career in the NHS. There's some sad and funny tales and shows how the services provided evolved. It's quite an easy book to read. I would have liked there to be some more tales of We follow Rachael's career through the NHS and her personal life. It tells us what it's like to be a health visitor for over thirty years. Thrnstories she tells are about real cases. It's clear Rachael loves her job. This is quite a thought provoking read. It does seem to focus more on Rachael's personal life than her career in the NHS. There's some sad and funny tales and shows how the services provided evolved. It's quite an easy book to read. I would have liked there to be some more tales of the cases shes had to deal with. I would like to thank NetGalley, Mirror Books and the author Rachael Jearson for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I was looking forward to reading this having enjoyed previous key worker memoirs from doctors, firefighters etc. I've also had a very mixed experience with health visitors myself so was interested in what happens behind the scenes. Unfortunately for me this didn't deliver. The focus of the book is too heavy on her own personal life and the client stories are extremely brief and not fully explained. I felt I knew more about her cars and kids schools than why decisions about child removal were made I was looking forward to reading this having enjoyed previous key worker memoirs from doctors, firefighters etc. I've also had a very mixed experience with health visitors myself so was interested in what happens behind the scenes. Unfortunately for me this didn't deliver. The focus of the book is too heavy on her own personal life and the client stories are extremely brief and not fully explained. I felt I knew more about her cars and kids schools than why decisions about child removal were made. It would have been interesting to hear more anonymised client experiences. Where are the disabled children, premature, post partum mental health, etc? Why were decisions made, what happened next and her feelings and perhaps errors were missing. The focus is mainly on addicts which I appreciate takes up a lot of time but it would've been good to hear more or a range. It was also a bit repetitive in places but this might be sorted as it's an advance copy. I also felt it lacked professionalism at times with a client described as 'bat shit crazy' and some judgement of child's names. Thank you to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    In a flurry of memoirs from health professionals, I was intrigued to hear from an NHS health visitor in a sea awash with the experiences of nurses and junior doctors. This was an easily digestible read about the authors forty year career working as a nurse, midwife and health visitor in the NHS. She describes her deprived childhood and how she navigates her way through training and living in the city. Later, she goes on to discuss her marriage and own foray into motherhood. I enjoyed reading abo In a flurry of memoirs from health professionals, I was intrigued to hear from an NHS health visitor in a sea awash with the experiences of nurses and junior doctors. This was an easily digestible read about the authors forty year career working as a nurse, midwife and health visitor in the NHS. She describes her deprived childhood and how she navigates her way through training and living in the city. Later, she goes on to discuss her marriage and own foray into motherhood. I enjoyed reading about the authors past and how different things were for the service many years ago. The writing is not always politically correct, as some other reviewers have noted. Additionally, stories from the frontline feel few and far between as the bulk of the book is made up of her life outside of work. One thing I found quite odd was her descriptions of living almost in poverty herself, not having any fuel for the car or food in the cupboards, yet her two children were privately educated. There is a time when the author describes visiting a local state school in a professional capacity for just one day and immediately dismissing the idea of her own kids attending. Call me cynical, but I don’t fully understand that. As a parent myself, I appreciate wanting to have the best for your kids, but the way the author describes this issue left me wondering if perhaps her decisions were a little misguided. Finally, the book also only briefly touched on issues like SIDS and there was no tangible information on things like safe sleep for babies (although the author does often state that she spoke to the parents about it, the topic is never fully discussed). I would have liked to have seen perhaps an entire chapter on the very real and very important issues of postnatal depression, anxiety and even postnatal psychosis. A worthwhile read if you have ever been intrigued by the role of the health visitor, and would like to know about what goes on behind the scenes. However, don’t anticipate dozens of client stories because these are increasingly few and far between.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    Handle With Care: True confessions of an NHS Health Visitor - brilliantly and delicately written on what can be difficult topics to cover; poverty, abuse, drug and alcohol use with newborns and young children and the health visitors unique view and look in into these difficult and often hard to address situations. There was a perfect balance between the authors own life and reminiscing of her life’s memories and her encounters as a midwife, health visitor and other forays into similar fields and Handle With Care: True confessions of an NHS Health Visitor - brilliantly and delicately written on what can be difficult topics to cover; poverty, abuse, drug and alcohol use with newborns and young children and the health visitors unique view and look in into these difficult and often hard to address situations. There was a perfect balance between the authors own life and reminiscing of her life’s memories and her encounters as a midwife, health visitor and other forays into similar fields and I have to say, my respect for these careers has sky rocketed. Not only battling against the situations at hand but also the system, often encountering brick walls of frustration in terms of securing houses to the vulnerable, access to food vouchers and helping aid charities which are often overwhelmed with services used to the max. Rachael’s good humour and light way of communicating what can be seen as harrowing stories makes this an entertaining but also eye opening read. It was great to read about her career, her life and her encounters. From her early life, childhood, student life to work life, she is so honestly candid and in the future, if I ever needed a visit from health visitors, I sincerely hope I’d get someone like her. And she also comes across as hilariously funny and I love reading about some of the nursing of old where rules and regulations were perhaps a little less stringent! Seeing the direction the NHS is heading, with cut backs and extra stressors in already stretched staff, I wholeheartedly hope that conditions and help to staff will be improved in the near future and will not suffer more. I really tip my hat off to all in the profession. They really are heroes! All in all, a fantastic book that I would thoroughly recommend !

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Thought this book would give me an insight into this job but felt that it stabbed at the role of social care not being focused on families in their time of need and that the only reason children are safe is because of health visitors

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I really wanted to like this book as I usually love these types of memoirs. However, I just couldn’t. This was written almost as spoken.- more like a fractured, over-informal conversation than a book. It tries a bit too hard with the humour, sometimes in a red-top tabloid way (such as talk of Rabid Health and Safety laws). The book often came across as patronising when describing some of the patients, and it would seem as if the technical explanations were lifted straight off of the internet or G I really wanted to like this book as I usually love these types of memoirs. However, I just couldn’t. This was written almost as spoken.- more like a fractured, over-informal conversation than a book. It tries a bit too hard with the humour, sometimes in a red-top tabloid way (such as talk of Rabid Health and Safety laws). The book often came across as patronising when describing some of the patients, and it would seem as if the technical explanations were lifted straight off of the internet or Govenment website (such as the definition of controlling and coercive behaviour). I wanted to hear about her work and experiences over her long career and how it has changed (for better or worse) over this time, however, too large a focus was on her personal life. Whilst this is important to a degree (hearing about how her career and home life worked together), I did not need to know as much as was written. I cannot just pick out the negatives. She has experienced the true impact of Government cuts and talks about them passionately and she talks of the good work done by food banks and nappy banks. These are things that we need people like her to stand up and shout about. However, I found it a struggle to finish this book (although I did) and would not recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    I was hoping for memoirs reflecting upon Rachael Hearson's experiences working in the NHS. Instead, a significant portion of the book discusses her upbringing and there is far too much emphasis on her personal life. Whilst this could be an interesting addition to the book, it could easily have been condensed. At times, it felt as if I was reading an autobiography that briefly discussed her work. Not what I expected. The client stories - which should form the bulk of the book - are far too brief a I was hoping for memoirs reflecting upon Rachael Hearson's experiences working in the NHS. Instead, a significant portion of the book discusses her upbringing and there is far too much emphasis on her personal life. Whilst this could be an interesting addition to the book, it could easily have been condensed. At times, it felt as if I was reading an autobiography that briefly discussed her work. Not what I expected. The client stories - which should form the bulk of the book - are far too brief and disjointed. Understandably anonymity is essential, however there was very little information as to how decisions were made and what happened as a result which seems bizarre. I also felt Hearson's tone was incredibly unprofessional and she seems very judgemental (one client being described as "bat-shit crazy"). She is frequently belittling of peoples circumstances and behaviour, yet repeatedly sings her own praises which I found irritating and left me struggling to finish the book. Disappointing. Thanks to Mirror Books and NetGalley for the ARC.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kate Southey

    Rachel Hearson has a lovely relaxed writing style and her depiction of her childhood was lovely. Usually in a memoir based on a specific career or time of life then I prefer the story to begin at that point but in this case I was very grateful that Hearson took us back to her early life. I am a generation behind the author’s so it was interesting to see the 80’s through the eyes of someone who lived it as an adult. If only it were so easy to get a degree now!! Rachel is clearly very proud of her Rachel Hearson has a lovely relaxed writing style and her depiction of her childhood was lovely. Usually in a memoir based on a specific career or time of life then I prefer the story to begin at that point but in this case I was very grateful that Hearson took us back to her early life. I am a generation behind the author’s so it was interesting to see the 80’s through the eyes of someone who lived it as an adult. If only it were so easy to get a degree now!! Rachel is clearly very proud of her profession and done as described in her book, I’d agree that Health Visitors are amazing people! Sadly, my own personal experience with of being bullied by our village’s HV when I was a single parent and then to have her not notice/ignore my post natal depression means I’ve never experienced anything even remotely close to what Hearson describes. Sadly no one I ever knew or met had a good word to say about the woman including the GP!! I’m sure Rachel is an incredibly dedicated and loving HV, she radiates kindness and a firm, fair positivity but I do think she needs to acknowledge that many of her professional colleagues aren’t like her. A trip to any parenting forum will bear this out, with HVs giving out old fashioned and now superseded advice regarding cosleeping, the use of punishment with preschoolers, weaning and more. I was very lucky to have my 4th child in a different town and not have to deal with Cruella D’visitor. This time I didn’t receive a baby visit which was fine by me and at 10 months received a phone call to ask me how things were and if I wanted a visit. My cheery “No thanks!” Was met with an equally cheery “well I’m fairly sure you know what you’re doing by now!” When my daughter was under 6 months we were invited to stay behind after baby group and listen to the HV give a weaning talk. The woman said that babies should be weaned from the breast or wouldn’t eat well and that “in my day weaning age was 16 weeks and now it’s 24, it never did my kids any harm and you’ll know if your baby is hungry” no word on the 4 month sleep regression that many parents mistake for hunger or the virgin gut evidence that underpins the need for nothing but milk for 6 months. At age 2 I received letter after letter inviting me to some group observation thing. The letter said were I not interested then to ignore the letter. Which I did. So they sent another. And another. And yes.. another. It has always been my view that the service was a waste of NHS money as most people can access what a HV provides via other routes, the GP, breastfeeding clinics etc and that it was more of a social care concern. So I’m sad to hear from the author that someone in government had the same idea as me and made a total hash of it and didn’t ring fence the budget for it!! She made very good points about the lack of integration within the GPs surgery and the council way of working with hot dealing, working away from the office etc not being helpful in the health visitor role. Perhaps then they do need to be under the NHS again then but with the resources firmly targeted at those women who Rachel describes being so important to. Those in hostels, those under social care, in poor housing etc and there must be much more commitment to ongoing training and keeping abreast of changes to recommendations and why those recommendations were made especially when they are from the WHO. There is no need for them to be qualified nurses and midwives if they tell mothers that baby led weaning will ‘starve’ their child and cause them to be dependent on the breast (like that’s a bad thing) Despite my prejudices and personal opinions I enjoyed reading this book and finished it in a day.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alannah Clarke

    Thank you to netgalley.co.uk for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest. At first, I didn't understand the blurb for this book, I don't think I know of anyone who would accuse a health visitor of not being a proper nurse. I can understand how isolating it can be stuck out in the community with no team to support you. After reading This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, I was curious to read something by a nurse/health visitor because it is clear (f Thank you to netgalley.co.uk for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest. At first, I didn't understand the blurb for this book, I don't think I know of anyone who would accuse a health visitor of not being a proper nurse. I can understand how isolating it can be stuck out in the community with no team to support you. After reading This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, I was curious to read something by a nurse/health visitor because it is clear (from my sister's stories) that nurses clearly have very different experiences. I thought the book started off very well but as I was reading the book, I began to feel a bit disappointed. I know I can't confirm this but I found it quite hard to believe that Rachael would be using her own money to buy food for her patients. I found the book didn't focus enough on the job and this is why I wanted to read the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Soozee

    If you are hoping for a book like 'Call the Midwife', covering lots of interesting case studies, you are likely to be disappointed. This is much more of a memoir, with plenty of homilies about how the system has flaws and what could improve it. It was an interesting read - written in a fairly colloquial style, with a variety of cases touched on briefly. The author is not shy about telling the reader how well she does her job, how she dips into her own pocket to help those in her care, and indeed If you are hoping for a book like 'Call the Midwife', covering lots of interesting case studies, you are likely to be disappointed. This is much more of a memoir, with plenty of homilies about how the system has flaws and what could improve it. It was an interesting read - written in a fairly colloquial style, with a variety of cases touched on briefly. The author is not shy about telling the reader how well she does her job, how she dips into her own pocket to help those in her care, and indeed how she and her family felt the despair of job loss and very low income. She doesn't really deal with many cases where she made a wrong choice or was afraid or worried about her charges. Usually she knew exactly what to do. I was particularly interested to read what support 'universal' mothers should expect from health visitors after the birth of a child in the late 80s and 90s, which contrasts strongly with the experience I received! Thank you to NetGalley and Mirror Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ang

    This is an excellent account of the life of a Health Visitor. My own children as adults have had very different experiences with Health Visitors to me. I had my children back in the days of the regular check and knowing the support was there. One of my happy memories of being a new young mum was the twice weekly clinics my HV ran where mums took their babies for weighing, checks, just a chat with the HV or to have the company of other mums in the same situation. It was an invaluable service and This is an excellent account of the life of a Health Visitor. My own children as adults have had very different experiences with Health Visitors to me. I had my children back in the days of the regular check and knowing the support was there. One of my happy memories of being a new young mum was the twice weekly clinics my HV ran where mums took their babies for weighing, checks, just a chat with the HV or to have the company of other mums in the same situation. It was an invaluable service and I just couldn’t understand why my daughter didn’t have this option with her children. Reading this has been an eye opener into the changes Health Visitors have had to make within their jobs. The service the provide really is amazing and I feel this book more than covered it but there is still so much to tell. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest and unbiased opinion.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elli (Kindig Blog)

    As an NHS Health Visiter, Rachael Hearson finds herself in some interesting situations. Women from all lifestyles need help in navigating motherhood and she is there with them every step of the way. I enjoy reading diary and confession type books as you get a real insight into the lives of people that you don’t necessarily interact with on a day to day basis. I loved Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’ or memoirs of prison doctors but I found this one a little lacklustre. I think part of this is t As an NHS Health Visiter, Rachael Hearson finds herself in some interesting situations. Women from all lifestyles need help in navigating motherhood and she is there with them every step of the way. I enjoy reading diary and confession type books as you get a real insight into the lives of people that you don’t necessarily interact with on a day to day basis. I loved Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’ or memoirs of prison doctors but I found this one a little lacklustre. I think part of this is that I find the stories of the patients and situations more interesting than the background of the person telling the story and Handle With Care is much more memoir of Racheal Hearson’s life. This may be due to the fact her job means she only pops into the lives of her patients for a short amount of time and often doesn’t know the outcome of her visits. I would say you get the background of her life and training for about 70% of the book and actual case studies for 30%. Although it’s an interesting and engaging read, it wasn’t really what I had expected and requested the book for! Perhaps if they had been more snippets of personal stories and better intertwined with the cases it would have made for a well-constructed read that fulfilled a lot of readers expectations. There also feels like a lot of the ‘saviour’ complex in this book, with Rachael talking about how many times she single-handedly turned a person’s life around or gave her own money to patients frequently. Although this may be true, it didn’t really make it easy to empathise with her when you are just bashed around the head with how amazing at her job she was without any talk of mistakes or trepidation she had with decisions she was making. When the actual cases were delved in though to they were very interesting and it was an insight into a part of the health profession that I have never needed to use so I did find it fascinating in that sense. I did also really enjoy the end chapter about the NHS and the Coronovirus, which especially as I was reading the ARC, is amazingly current. It’s a heart-warming addition about just how important and life-saving the NHS is and how lucky we are to have it which is so true. Overall, I found Handle With Care a little disappointing – it’s too much about the personal life of an individual Health Visitor than proper insights and confessions of the job as a whole. Thank you to NetGalley & Mirror Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review. For more reviews check out www.kindig.co.uk

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thank you to Netgalley for a pre publication copy. In return for an honest review! #Handlewithcare #netgalley Rachel Hearson is a midwife, nurse and health visitor working in the NHS. This is the memoirs of her journey of finding her feet as a tri-professional from studenthood through her many different experiences as a qualified tri-professional. This book featured in one of Netgalley monthly newsletters and the description made me know this book was for me. This book is a page turner. You want Thank you to Netgalley for a pre publication copy. In return for an honest review! #Handlewithcare #netgalley Rachel Hearson is a midwife, nurse and health visitor working in the NHS. This is the memoirs of her journey of finding her feet as a tri-professional from studenthood through her many different experiences as a qualified tri-professional. This book featured in one of Netgalley monthly newsletters and the description made me know this book was for me. This book is a page turner. You want to follow Rachel through her fight and whilst assisting those to fight through the rock bottom of life. This book does exactly what it says on the tin. A lovely but emotional, at times, read. However I do feel at one particular point during this book that Health visitors were made to be the only ones able to do certain aspects of care. It almost came out as derogatory towards other professions Eg " but health visitors are the only nurses who have, as their main focus. Prevention of ill health and promotion of well-being. These qualified professionals who have also studied an extra year on top of their nursing and midwifery qualification have unique access to families through home visiting which enables us to identify health needs early and often before they become critical weakening irreparable damage. .." This is certainly not true community nurses work on being proactive to ill health prevention and wellbeing promotion rather than reactive. However they usually are dealing with a specific aspect of health which is" abnormal. " They visit patients at home and are able to prevent health deterioration becoming critical just like health visitors but with a different type of patient. The nurses are not required by the NMC to have an extra year of study but this does not make them any less qualified. I imagine the author was not meaning this to read how it did but meaning they were the only professionals to visit mostly well people for this type of work. However it reads differently which, although unlikely, could be catastrophic for some professionals when trying to work with lay people who have misinterpreted this. Overall I enjoyed this book and it has helped me get out of my reading slump.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Rachael Hearson has worked in the NHS for over 40 years, with more than 30 of them spent as a Health Visitor.  During her career she has had a wealth of positive experiences, more than her share of negative ones and some just downright bizarre ones thrown in for good measure. This is her story. I've really enjoyed a few of the medical professional memoirs that have been published recently, so when this popped up on NetGalley I was quick to request it.  Unfortunately I felt it missed the mark. Read Rachael Hearson has worked in the NHS for over 40 years, with more than 30 of them spent as a Health Visitor.  During her career she has had a wealth of positive experiences, more than her share of negative ones and some just downright bizarre ones thrown in for good measure. This is her story. I've really enjoyed a few of the medical professional memoirs that have been published recently, so when this popped up on NetGalley I was quick to request it.  Unfortunately I felt it missed the mark. Reading the blurb I was looking forward to reading about Rachael's professional life and hearing about some of the families she has worked with.  I assumed this would be the focus of the book.  This one is more of a personal memoir, and although it does cover some patient stories, I felt there was less of that side of things than I was looking for, and a heavier focus on the author's personal life. Don't get me wrong, she's had an interesting life and has worked through some incredibly hard times, but that wasn't the book I was expecting or hoping for. The other reason for my low rating is that the book seemed quite fractured and the sections didn't flow well from one another.  Quite often a new section or story would start but I'd feel that the previous one hadn't quite finished.  On the positive side the stories that Rachael tells of her time as a Health Visitor were really interesting, and showed what a phenomenal range of skills her and her colleagues need in order to be able to help people.  Some of the sights they see are unbelievable, and to be honest hearing about the level of poverty that some families face was distressing.  What I learnt about Health Visitors and the challenges they face was fascinating. Seeing how they can find ways to get through to people who don't think they want or need help, and learning about the many aspects of their role was the highlight of the book for me.  I felt like we got a taster of something brilliant, but there just wasn't enough of it, and having had the taste the other bits didn't do it for me. Thanks to NetGalley and Mirror Books for an arc in exchange for an honest review

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ellesse

    I was gripped from the start with this book, I loved going through the journey of Rachel’s career and elements of her personal life. She is so warm and kind, the book demonstrates how much she really cares for the people she sees and how she wants the best for them. I don’t have any children at the moment so have never had personal experience with a health visitor, in fact before this book I could only give you a rough idea of what I thought they did. I didn’t even know they were nurses! I though I was gripped from the start with this book, I loved going through the journey of Rachel’s career and elements of her personal life. She is so warm and kind, the book demonstrates how much she really cares for the people she sees and how she wants the best for them. I don’t have any children at the moment so have never had personal experience with a health visitor, in fact before this book I could only give you a rough idea of what I thought they did. I didn’t even know they were nurses! I thought they were professionals but didn’t know they were nurses. Rachel and others like her are the backbones of our NHS, it is times like these we realise how important our NHS is. Racheal entered the NHS over 40 years ago as a student nurse, before continuing and becoming a health visitor. She cared for her family and all the people she was assigned to visit. We go with her to a number of households and situations discovering some people are doing well, others struggling but will get there with a helping hand and others who aren’t suitable parents no matter how many people try to help. I loved this book, it isn’t the same as an Adam Kay book but it never claimed to be. This is Rachel Hearson’s experience, no one else’s. The book does have more of a focus on Rachel and her life and career rather than a tell-all on her patients which I enjoyed. An interesting fact from the book, a nightingale ward has 24 beds. Thank you to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    As a qualified nurse working at an advanced level and around the same age as the author I was intrigued to read this memoir..I had very brief experiences of working with health visitors during my training and the experience was a bit curate's egg. After qualifying and leaving hospital to work in GP practice we had an amazing HV who was attached to the surgery which meant we were able to contact her very easily and developed a great relationship. To the book-the over-arching narrative is interest As a qualified nurse working at an advanced level and around the same age as the author I was intrigued to read this memoir..I had very brief experiences of working with health visitors during my training and the experience was a bit curate's egg. After qualifying and leaving hospital to work in GP practice we had an amazing HV who was attached to the surgery which meant we were able to contact her very easily and developed a great relationship. To the book-the over-arching narrative is interesting and I definitely connected with some of her life story. Not as much as I did with Adam Kay's This Is Going To Hurt which I thought relayed a lot of my own life and I really gelled with the book. This book confirms my suspicions that HVs do not need to be nurses (midwives no longer have to do their RGN first so....) I also take issue with her statement that HVs are the only nurses to prioritise health promotion-we spend a lot of time in GP practice doing the very same thing. We also see patients in a variety of settings as lone workers The book does need a good sort out in terms of flow, lay out, chapter organisation and chronology. It felt a bit all over the place. Yes the spellings/grammar etc will be sorted before publication but this does need more work on the narrative. The Covid-19 epilogue was a bit "off the cuff", felt rushed and an after thought- ,and I'm not a "BoJo" lover, nor are a lot of my colleagues in the NHS. A bit of editing and reworking and I'm sure many people will be interested in reading it

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Phillips

    I requested this book for review on Netgalley as I loved books in a similar vein, namely 'This Is Going To Hurt' by Adam Kay and Leah Hazard's 'Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story'. I am very interested in learning about jobs that I know very little about plus, I haven't had great experiences with health visitors myself. I'm still waiting on Erin's two year check and she'll be six in September! The first half of the book was very slow and it took me a while to get into. It reads more like a full autob I requested this book for review on Netgalley as I loved books in a similar vein, namely 'This Is Going To Hurt' by Adam Kay and Leah Hazard's 'Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story'. I am very interested in learning about jobs that I know very little about plus, I haven't had great experiences with health visitors myself. I'm still waiting on Erin's two year check and she'll be six in September! The first half of the book was very slow and it took me a while to get into. It reads more like a full autobiography, starting with her childhood and it seems like it has a lot of filler that I wasn't hooked on. I much prefer the stories of clients she visited. The second half of the book, I loved. It was much more work-based and tough to read about some of the houses and situations that were visited by Hearson. You hear about the setting up of a nappy bank, which was very much needed, and the judgements of online keyboard warriors who automatically think that these people shouldn't have children and probably spend all their money on drink and drugs, when in reality money issues could happen to anyone. It was even an issue for the author in the recession when her partner ended up unemployed, she was still working in the NHS and they struggled to feed their children and pay their school fees for a while. It is such an interesting look at what health visitors are required to do and even things that aren't even in their job description. If my health visitors had been like Rachael Hearson, I would definitely have had a much better experience.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Phillips

    I requested this book for review on Netgalley as I loved books in a similar vein, namely 'This Is Going To Hurt' by Adam Kay and Leah Hazard's 'Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story'. I am very interested in learning about jobs that I know very little about plus, I haven't had great experiences with health visitors myself. I'm still waiting on Erin's two year check and she'll be six in September! The first half of the book was very slow and it took me a while to get into. It reads more like a full autob I requested this book for review on Netgalley as I loved books in a similar vein, namely 'This Is Going To Hurt' by Adam Kay and Leah Hazard's 'Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story'. I am very interested in learning about jobs that I know very little about plus, I haven't had great experiences with health visitors myself. I'm still waiting on Erin's two year check and she'll be six in September! The first half of the book was very slow and it took me a while to get into. It reads more like a full autobiography, starting with her childhood and it seems like it has a lot of filler that I wasn't hooked on. I much prefer the stories of clients she visited. The second half of the book, I loved. It was much more work-based and tough to read about some of the houses and situations that were visited by Hearson. You hear about the setting up of a nappy bank, which was very much needed, and the judgements of online keyboard warriors who automatically think that these people shouldn't have children and probably spend all their money on drink and drugs, when in reality money issues could happen to anyone. It was even an issue for the author in the recession when her partner ended up unemployed, she was still working in the NHS and they struggled to feed their children and pay their school fees for a while. It is such an interesting look at what health visitors are required to do and even things that aren't even in their job description. If my health visitors had been like Rachael Hearson, I would definitely have had a much better experience.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie Haigh

    Very good read. I really enjoyed Rachael Hearson's memoir. She joined the NHS as a student nurse 40 years ago. She's worked as a nurse, midwife, and health visitor-the latter for 30 years. I have read memoirs by doctors, nurses, surgeons, midwives etc; but never a health visitor, so I thought this would be interesting for a change. It certainly was. You just think they call in for a cosy chat and a coffee; see how mum and baby is doing. Yes, if they're lucky-the reality is usually much different w Very good read. I really enjoyed Rachael Hearson's memoir. She joined the NHS as a student nurse 40 years ago. She's worked as a nurse, midwife, and health visitor-the latter for 30 years. I have read memoirs by doctors, nurses, surgeons, midwives etc; but never a health visitor, so I thought this would be interesting for a change. It certainly was. You just think they call in for a cosy chat and a coffee; see how mum and baby is doing. Yes, if they're lucky-the reality is usually much different with all manner of conditions, moods and scenarios to deal with. The author was born in Devon, in 1960, and from a Romany travelling family on her dad's side. So really, she's been there. Her childhood home wasn't that packed with facilities-eg outside lav etc. She's not been wrapped up in cotton wool. I know my mum used to think that perhaps some health visitors in her day "knew nowt". "What do they know? They've probably never had any children" etc. Well, yes, she has. And she knows her stuff: She's been a nurse and a midwife before becoming a health visitor, so you sort of get a 'three for the price of one' memoir. Very revealing-she's been through many things, she's had some hard times too, she's not stuffy and talking down to you. Wow, some of the situations she faces! They do much more than you think-it's not just baby clinics! An eye-opening memoir, and a very good read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy J

    Thank you to Netgalley and Mirror Books for my arc of this book! After reading Adam Kay's book about being a junior doctor, I, like many people have been drawn into reading the real life medical memoirs that have recently been released so naturally this was next on my list. Before reading I read a few reviews on here saying it was more an autobiography than of life as a health visitor and so I thought I would be disappointed. To anyone wanting a full diary of being a health visitor this isn't what Thank you to Netgalley and Mirror Books for my arc of this book! After reading Adam Kay's book about being a junior doctor, I, like many people have been drawn into reading the real life medical memoirs that have recently been released so naturally this was next on my list. Before reading I read a few reviews on here saying it was more an autobiography than of life as a health visitor and so I thought I would be disappointed. To anyone wanting a full diary of being a health visitor this isn't what this book is. It's about Rachel's personal life around working for the NHS as much as it is working on the frontline. And I can honestly say I really enjoyed it! It is raw, honest and informative, when reading about HV back in the day it is nothing to how they are now unfortunately, like most professions, the human touch isn't there as much as it was then. However having had 2 babies myself and having a non diagnosed silent reflux baby that almost destroyed me mentally, my biggest thanks had to go to my local HV who was the only professional to actually listen to me and help me (unlike my GP who told me she wasnt ill I just didnt give her enough attention!) and I have since been back and thanked her, she has no idea how much she helped me and this book made me realise just how amazing they are! This book isn't along the same narration as other medical books at the moment but I can honestly say I enjoyed it just as much! Would definitely recommend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lucy-Bookworm

    An insight into the life of a Health Visitor – which is far more than cooing over babies whilst drinking tea! The book is less about the people she meets and more about her personal life & how the role of the Health Visitor has changed over the last 30 years. Throughout the book, we follow Rachael as she leaves her Romany family upbringing to head for London where she trained as a nurse, then a midwife before turning to Health Visiting. A brief stint in management confirmed that she wanted to re An insight into the life of a Health Visitor – which is far more than cooing over babies whilst drinking tea! The book is less about the people she meets and more about her personal life & how the role of the Health Visitor has changed over the last 30 years. Throughout the book, we follow Rachael as she leaves her Romany family upbringing to head for London where she trained as a nurse, then a midwife before turning to Health Visiting. A brief stint in management confirmed that she wanted to remain on the “front line” working with families. There is a good balance of humour intermixed with heartbreaking moments and tales of hope. It touches on some of the more difficult topics that a Health Visitor will encounter – drugs, poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, abuse and more. We also meet an elderly man living in a freezing caravan and see that a Health Visitors role encompasses people of all ages, not just babies. The book was an easy read and overall it was an interesting memoir of Rachael’s life but from the “blurb” I was expecting more about her work than her personal life. It is clear that she loves her job & she makes some very good points about how budget constraints & changes to structures will lead to children/families “slipping through the gap” Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book free from the publisher via NetGalley. Whilst thanks go to the publisher & author for the opportunity to read it, all opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy J

    Thank you to Netgalley and Mirror Books for my arc of this book! After reading Adam Kay's book about being a junior doctor, I, like many people have been drawn into reading the real life medical memoirs that have recently been released so naturally this was next on my list. Before reading I read a few reviews on here saying it was more an autobiography than of life as a health visitor and so I thought I would be disappointed. To anyone wanting a full diary of being a health visitor this isn't wh Thank you to Netgalley and Mirror Books for my arc of this book! After reading Adam Kay's book about being a junior doctor, I, like many people have been drawn into reading the real life medical memoirs that have recently been released so naturally this was next on my list. Before reading I read a few reviews on here saying it was more an autobiography than of life as a health visitor and so I thought I would be disappointed. To anyone wanting a full diary of being a health visitor this isn't what this book is. It's about Rachel's personal life around working for the NHS as much as it is working on the frontline. And I can honestly say I really enjoyed it! It is raw, honest and informative, when reading about HV back in the day it is nothing to how they are now unfortunately, like most professions, the human touch isn't there as much as it was then. However having had 2 babies myself and having a non diagnosed silent reflux baby that almost destroyed me mentally, my biggest thanks had to go to my local HV who was the only professional to actually listen to me and help me (unlike my GP who told me she wasnt ill I just didnt give her enough attention!) and I have since been back and thanked her, she has no idea how much she helped me and this book made me realise just how amazing they are! This book isn't along the same narration as other medical books at the moment but I can honestly say I enjoyed it just as much! Would definitely recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Oxley

    'Handle with Care' is a timely release when all things are considered. Published by mirror group, this professional confessional is a refreshing first-person memoir of 40 plus years working as a health visitor in a bureaucratic, cash-starved, and often forgotten, NHS. Before clapping on a Thursday and priority shopping at supermarkets, this integral part of the healthcare profession was often ridiculed and not lauded like it is today. From midwifery school to eventual health care visits, and ra 'Handle with Care' is a timely release when all things are considered. Published by mirror group, this professional confessional is a refreshing first-person memoir of 40 plus years working as a health visitor in a bureaucratic, cash-starved, and often forgotten, NHS. Before clapping on a Thursday and priority shopping at supermarkets, this integral part of the healthcare profession was often ridiculed and not lauded like it is today. From midwifery school to eventual health care visits, and raising a family herself, Racheal gives a startlingly refreshing and heartfelt life story that is as much social history document as it is a diagnostic on social health in the 20th century. Rachael is a hard-working Mum who's passionate about her cases and delivers an intelligently warm narrative which comes across well in this warts and all account. Where it may lack in real life case-by-case examples of practising healthcare ( a lot of personal life stories here) the cases that are discussed offer an insightful and often thought-provoking look at life on the frontline of our ever-changing and politically charged healthcare services. Our only criticism would be that the impassioned covid19 epilogue should have been put at the start of this book - very inspiring stuff!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zara

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest, independent review. "Over 40 years working in the NHS, Rachael Hearson has been chased down an isolated stairwell by crack-fuelled drug-addicted pimps, threatened by a knife-wielding wife-beater in a hostel, unwittingly visited a brothel..." I enjoyed this book. We follow Rachael's career through the NHS, as she trains as a nurse and specialises as a Health Visitor, helping women from all walks of life navigate motherhood. I enjoyed he I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest, independent review. "Over 40 years working in the NHS, Rachael Hearson has been chased down an isolated stairwell by crack-fuelled drug-addicted pimps, threatened by a knife-wielding wife-beater in a hostel, unwittingly visited a brothel..." I enjoyed this book. We follow Rachael's career through the NHS, as she trains as a nurse and specialises as a Health Visitor, helping women from all walks of life navigate motherhood. I enjoyed hearing about the ups and downs of being a Health Visitor, and the type of help they can give women. It also shone a light on poverty, and the difficulty some mothers find themselves in. The downside to me was there was too much personal content, with more focus on Rachael's personal life than a 'confessions of' style medical book. I'm interested to hear about how people in healthcare got into the role, how they trained etc., but I found at times there was more of the author's personal history than there was of her medical career. I feel I would have enjoyed it more if there were more sections on visits to patients. It was a thought-provoking read though, and interesting to see how much Health Visitors do.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I really wanted to like this book as I usually love these types of memoirs. However, I just couldn’t. This was written almost as spoken.- more like a fractured, over-informal conversation than a book. It tries a bit too hard with the humour, sometimes in a red-top tabloid way (such as talk of Rabid Health and Safety laws). The book often came across as patronising when describing some of the patients, and it would seem as if the technical explanations were lifted straight off of the internet or G I really wanted to like this book as I usually love these types of memoirs. However, I just couldn’t. This was written almost as spoken.- more like a fractured, over-informal conversation than a book. It tries a bit too hard with the humour, sometimes in a red-top tabloid way (such as talk of Rabid Health and Safety laws). The book often came across as patronising when describing some of the patients, and it would seem as if the technical explanations were lifted straight off of the internet or Govenment website (such as the definition of controlling and coercive behaviour). I wanted to hear about her work and experiences over her long career and how it has changed (for better or worse) over this time, however, too large a focus was on her personal life. Whilst this is important to a degree (hearing about how her career and home life worked together), I did not need to know as much as was written. I cannot just pick out the negatives. She has experienced the true impact of Government cuts and talks about them passionately and she talks of the good work done by food banks and nappy banks. These are things that we need people like her to stand up and shout about. However, I found it a struggle to finish this book (although I did) and would not recommend it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gareth Townsend

    A memoir written in a lovely, relaxed style, Rachael Hearson shows us what it's like to be a Health Visitor in the NHS. Hearson intertwines both her own personal life, with her professional life to give an insight into how NHS staff have to interweave the two throughout their day to day life. It shows us the difficulties that a lot of new mothers who are struggling to make ends meet have to endure in their life, and you cannot help but feel empathetic towards them, and the health visitors who go A memoir written in a lovely, relaxed style, Rachael Hearson shows us what it's like to be a Health Visitor in the NHS. Hearson intertwines both her own personal life, with her professional life to give an insight into how NHS staff have to interweave the two throughout their day to day life. It shows us the difficulties that a lot of new mothers who are struggling to make ends meet have to endure in their life, and you cannot help but feel empathetic towards them, and the health visitors who go out and see them. This book shines a light on health visitors which can often be overlooked when compared with other roles within the health service but Hearson does a fantastic job at bringing health visitors to the forefront and gives them the attention they deserve. One comment I would make is that often, when memoirs are very clearly about a specific profession, I would like a little more focus on the professional recollections versus the personal ones and I feel that this book gives a little more attention to the latter. All in all a nice, easy read that I'd recommend to anybody

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    A remarkable testament to the health visitor, from a vastly experienced and highly qualified member of that profession. Nothing, it seems is beyond their official remit. Alongside the day to day routine visits are the dramas, crises, tragedies. And the health visitor is there in the front line. Theirs is a complex multi- functional role: nurse, carer, social worker, counsellor, surrogate mother/big sister/auntie, for everyone who has a new born for two years. And those functioning or barely func A remarkable testament to the health visitor, from a vastly experienced and highly qualified member of that profession. Nothing, it seems is beyond their official remit. Alongside the day to day routine visits are the dramas, crises, tragedies. And the health visitor is there in the front line. Theirs is a complex multi- functional role: nurse, carer, social worker, counsellor, surrogate mother/big sister/auntie, for everyone who has a new born for two years. And those functioning or barely functioning in the most complex circumstances. Rachael Hearson’s dedication, determination not to allow an under-funded system to destroy her professionalism, her empathy and understanding of the most needy and vulnerable is both impressive and deeply moving. She has seen it all. An epilogue updates her experiences to take in the impact too of Coronavirus. All we can do is be thankful there are professionals like her in every community, tirelessly driven to support and protect. Thank you @NetGalley and @MirrorBooks for my free pre-release download.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Thanks to Net Galley & Mirror Books for this early release. I requested this book having recently read and loved Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’ and assumed from this book’s description that it would be similar in nature. I was wrong. It took me a long time to get through the first third of the book as I wasn’t expecting all the background to Rachael’s story from growing up to carrying out her training and moving around the country. It wasn’t until she moved from London to Dorset that I becam Thanks to Net Galley & Mirror Books for this early release. I requested this book having recently read and loved Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’ and assumed from this book’s description that it would be similar in nature. I was wrong. It took me a long time to get through the first third of the book as I wasn’t expecting all the background to Rachael’s story from growing up to carrying out her training and moving around the country. It wasn’t until she moved from London to Dorset that I became properly invested in the story as I realised she had lived and worked where I grew up and still have connections with today. I flew through the rest of the book and enjoyed the stories of her day-to-day experiences of Health Visiting, although the stories of sending her kids to private school to avoid a local school she worked at one time did upset me as I’m sure this was referring to one of two schools I attended. I also enjoyed the very recent addition at the end of the book discussing the NHS and how her work had been effected by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Helen Ostler

    I have nothing to do with the medical industry but have always found autobiographies from those in that field fascinating. I read Adam Kay’s book as soon as it came out, David Nott’s war doctor book is next on my shelf, and I read Jed Mercurio’s fictional book Bodies before it was made into a Tv show. Therefore I was very happy to get an advance copy of Rachael’s book ‘Handle with Care’ from NetGalley. I’ve had both midwives and health visitors visit after the birth of my babies, and I was sure I have nothing to do with the medical industry but have always found autobiographies from those in that field fascinating. I read Adam Kay’s book as soon as it came out, David Nott’s war doctor book is next on my shelf, and I read Jed Mercurio’s fictional book Bodies before it was made into a Tv show. Therefore I was very happy to get an advance copy of Rachael’s book ‘Handle with Care’ from NetGalley. I’ve had both midwives and health visitors visit after the birth of my babies, and I was sure I had only witnessed a tiny proportion of what health visitors actually do. And this book certainly opened my eyes via Rachael’s very personable style. She starts at the beginning of her career, as a student nurse, in awe of the sisters and matrons in the London hospital. She shares her personal life along with stories of those in her care. I found the book entertaining, sometimes sad, sometimes heartwarming. It’s a tale of her 40 years in nursing that she conveys as if speaking to you as friends enjoying a long tea break together.

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