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Inspiration to action: engaging with the annual conference results in enjoying it and learning more, and is a reminder of how important it is to be actively involved with Unite/CPHVA.

I returned from the Unite/CPHVA annual professional conference in Harrogate feeling really inspired. I did a presentation on childhood obesity in a concurrent session called 'Discussing the taboos'.

I have been so busy at work recently that I only finished my PowerPoint on the Monday morning, and I realise now that I was a wee bit stressed to say the least prior to actually delivering it on the Thursday. I was nervous because I really wanted to provide a presentation that practitioners would find useful in some way. I know how busy everyone is, juggling many different roles. However, once I'd actually got my presentation ready, I started to get excited about going to the conference and it was with mixed emotions that I set off from Belfast International Airport on the Wednesday morning. Conference is such a great chance to network with colleagues from all over the UK, and for me and many others it's also a chance to get away with some of your friends who you have worked with over the years.

Moment of epiphany

I found that this was a conference where members and other delegates came together not only with each other but with keynote speakers, presenters, sponsors and conference organisers. I really enjoyed it.

I think I actually had an epiphany moment when I came home. It is us working together that creates such energy--us, the members of Unite/CPHVA. That's why I want to say a very big thank you to Obi and the rest of the conference planning team for selecting such great keynote speakers and making this a conference that I won't forget. You did a great job for such a small team. Throughout the conference, I enjoyed chatting with so many friendly and approachable people who are all working so hard to do their jobs well.

Choosing to engage

I've been to conference only once before, but I enjoyed this one more. I know why, as well --it's because I engaged with it.

I learnt a lot and feel invigorated about my personal and professional development. I've had a chance to influence health care through my presentation. I'm more knowledgeable about public health, and that will be passed on to the future generation of students. I haven't worked as a health visitor since 2002, but have kept up to date with as much as I can through being active in Unite/CPHVA, sometimes more than others due to competing demands. I've been a chair and a treasurer in my local centre and represented Northern Ireland on the Education Sub-Committee. It's been really good for maintaining a handle on how health visitors are getting on in practice and for informing my teaching role.

Value of conference

The value of the annual conference for both personal and professional development cannot be downplayed. Where else can health visitors, school nurses, community practitioners and those from education and research with an interest in public health nursing go to meet like-minded people with similar interests but from so many different fields? Who else could do it better? Who else would carry the torch for the wider public health agenda?

I am happy to be professionally aligned with Unite/CPHVA and its philosophy of care as well as cure. Health visitors and school nurses are the leading professions to co-ordinate and deliver services that aim to educate, empower, support and guide parents to improve and safeguard children's lives.

Unite/CPHVA offers a collective voice that promotes public health nursing from a model of health that takes in the wider determinants of health. This holistic perspective is synonymous with good nursing care. Anything less from my professional organisation and I would feel cheated. This year's conference enriched my respect for and dedication to the profession I am proud to belong to.

Olivia Giles, the founder of 500 miles who gave the memorial lecture, was just the required tonic to toast the end of the conference and to set me up to face the challenges of our time. If you haven't heard this amazing woman speak, you should take the time to listen to her on the podcast from the conference. Her words echo in my ears: 'it's the challenges in our lives which unlock our potential', 'it's the opportunities that trigger the deepest sense of obligation in your conscience, the ones where you just know, even fleetingly, that this is something that you can do and something where you can achieve or make a difference'.

A perfect time

Work for all of us is harder than it's ever been, but few would want to exchange places with the growing numbers of unemployed. The importance of the work done with children and families needs to be marketed in terms of its economic impact as well as health impact. With cuts to every sector occurring, our interventions need to be promoted in terms that mean something to those holding the purse strings. This will be increasingly important as every profession extols the virtues of their service.

Health visitors and school nurses cannot waste this opportunity. This is the perfect time to become actively involved in your Unite/CPHVA to make a difference.

Louise Hales

Teaching fellow, School of Nursing and

Midwifery, Queen's University Belfast
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Title Annotation:Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association
Author:Hales, Louise
Publication:Community Practitioner
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2010
Words:876
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