East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership’s (HSCP) health visiting service has achieved UNICEF accreditation for excellence in promoting parent – infant relationships and infant feeding.
The HSCP has been declared as a gold baby friendly service following a rigorous assessment based on a global accreditation programme led by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) is designed to support breastfeeding as well as parent and infant relationships.
BFI supports parents to have close and loving relationships with their baby by enabling them to touch, talk and care for their babies as well as supporting skin to skin contact and responsive feeding. Research has also shown that loving relationships with parents and families promotes brain development in babies.
The partnership was highly commended for the way its services have been developed to ensure there are continued improvements in outcomes for babies, their mothers and families as a whole. Assessors also recognised the ongoing excellence training staff receive and the culture of kindness that is very much evident between staff and patients.
Julie Murray, East Renfrewshire HSCP Chief Officer, said: “It’s a wonderful achievement for the HSCP to be recognised by UNICEF in this way.
“We are already seeing that the BFI standards are making a tangible difference to babies and their families in East Renfrewshire. It absolutely recognises the importance of empowering close, loving, parent-child relationships and the benefits achieved as a result.
“We’ve consciously developed our services to ensure we promote a culture which supports parents and nurtures in their role as parents. We have had great feedback from families saying they feel much more confident caring for their baby and that staff are kind and considerate.
“The overwhelming message we are getting from staff is that they feel very motivated by the standards required to meet BFI guidelines and I must thank everyone involved in delivering this exceptional work to our residents.”
The staged accreditation programme trains health professionals in hospitals, health visiting services and children’s centres to support mothers to breastfeed and help all parents to build a close and loving relationship with their baby irrespective of feeding method. They also work with university midwifery and health visiting programmes to provide students with a strong foundation of knowledge on feeding and parent-infant relationships.
Supporting breastfeeding is a part of the programme, however the Baby Friendly Initiative aim to raise standards of care for all babies, regardless of how they are fed.
Glasgow’s Princess Royal Maternity Hospital was the first maternity hospital in Scotland to achieve UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative status for its neonatal unit as a result of its care for the most vulnerable babies and their families.