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Category: News

The practice of Home Visitation

By Celine Martin, National Member Support Manager

During the past year my work in SVP has taken me to the four corners of Ireland, I wanted to learn from the members, I wanted understand how we carry out the work of home visitation. We know our members visits to people in their homes  supports so many throughout the country but I was intrigued to learn more. In an attempt to try to understand how the interventions from members of SVP make such a difference in the lives of those we assist I have learned there are two very important ingredients. The first is the person who seeks help and the second is the helper, if positive relationships are formed change is possible. This is not a new concept, the challenge to us is how to  transfer this understanding to new members coming into the Society.  Skills built up over many years  of visiting people cannot be grasped  following a nights visiting when time is precious or through a time limited training session. Let me share my reflections with you following my time spent with members over the past few months.


As part of my role as National Member Support Manager I was asked to look at how we intervene with those we assist and to find a way to impart this knowledge to new members. The interactions are so varied across our membership of over 10,000 people, this was no easy task. My work was to support the member /volunteer led training team and the National Training Co-Ordinator to deliver some new and engaging opportunities for enhanced training.  During my endeavours I met with many members across the country and in particular the members of the quality visitation sub -committee in Galway. In 2012 as part of its work, this committee commissioned OCS Consulting to help inform the development of a holistic approach to SVP visitation in Galway City and County. As I am a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel I have used this research with the permission of those members to attempt to establish what  a model of” holistic home visitation” looks like in practice. Bringing the skills and experience from my own therapeutic background and my work in the community and voluntary sector I began to understand how key principles from a  model of  “Solution focussed brief intervention skills ” (Steve de Shazer)  work were very similar to the principles of “quality visitation” and moving people to “self –sufficiency”.

Research to Practice or is practice to research in the SVP

Research shows that evidence based practice is known to be most effective in helping to bring about change, we need to be confident about the type of interventions we engage in, in order to help those we assist move to a better place in their lives. If we apply the principles of using evidence based models to bring best practice standards to our volunteering work we can be more assured in the service we are providing. In the Society we are in a most privileged position of sharing the opportunity for improved life chances with those we assist.  It is comforting to know our interventions lend themselves to an evidence based best practice model.

Practical application of best practice in Home Visitation

There are many ways to present how we deliver our services to those most in need, the following diagram is just one way of attempting to put the work we do into a framework that is clear and concise.

Home Visitation Model


Solution Focussed Brief Intervention Model

The concepts of “Solution focussed brief interventions” help us to allow the person we are supporting to find their own solutions to bring about change. We empower the person we are assisting to build on their own strengths to enable change to happen.


Finally the members of the Society themselves are the key agents of change; the ability to believe in the possibility of change is one of the key components of this model and the work we do. Thank you to all the members who have shared their knowledge, skills and vision with me during the past few months it is my hope the fruits of our conversations will be shared with many into the future.

Vincentians  “Sevre in Spe”     (“Serve in Hope”)

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