The Growing Healthy 0-5 Health Visiting services in County Durham and Darlington were successful with its Gold Baby Friendly assessment by Unicef, with feedback from mothers rating the teams very highly for being kind and considerate.
The services are run by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and through it, all families with a child under five have access to a Health Visiting Team in County Durham and Darlington.
These consist of health visitors and assistant practitioners/nursery nurses, who are responsible for delivering a series of routine appointments to all families. They also offer additional support to families when needed and can offer practical advice and support on a range of topics related to parenting.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by Unicef and the World Health Organization, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for mothers and babies. It is based on a comprehensive set of standards designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby, and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development.
The Unicef report’s authors found that feedback is obtained from mothers via a number of routes. When asked if staff were kind and considerate, 95 per cent of mothers said that they were at all times.
It is also clear that there are many well-established structures in place to enable leadership and accountability, and senior managers, including the Guardian, Jill Foster, Chief Nurse, interviewed showed an in-depth understanding of the Baby Friendly standards and were aware of the value of embedding this within the service.
The report also highlighted how there are key breastfeeding leads within each locality team who take responsibility for the orientation of new staff and are the first port of call for breastfeeding queries. It was also noted that the profile of infant feeding in the service has been raised and it is now integrated with other key aims such as healthy weight and perinatal mental health.
There are 5,400 births per year in County Durham and Darlington, and the teams work out of 86 GP practices, 20 children’s centres and 21 breastfeeding cafes.
Amanda Smith, General Manager for Growing Healthy County Durham and Growing Health Darlington, said: “We are such enthusiastic, dedicated teams here in County Durham and Darlington. Everyone should be proud of what we’ve achieved. This award is entirely due to their hard work in providing the best possible care for mums-to-be, children and families right across the area.
“This award gives assurance to mums-to-be that we provide high quality, practical advice and support and our focus is always what’s best for children and families.”
This Unicef award comes on the back of significant work by service commissioners Durham County Council. Its Breastfeeding Health Equity Audit (HEA) for County Durham (2017) systematically identified the inequality in breastfeeding across County Durham.
The Council’s Public Health team, working closely with the Growing Healthy teams and other agencies, have developed a set of recommendations which have been developed into a local action plan to deliver a holistic approach to tackle this inequality. This is underpinned with a social norms theme to help influence cultural and social norms in County Durham.
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Notes to editors:
This award complements the Unicef awards already achieved by the Trust’s Maternity Unit and Special Care Baby Unit at Harrogate District Hospital, and the Growing Healthy North Yorkshire Health Visiting team.