Torbay Health Visiting Service has been awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award from UNICEF (United Nation’s Children’s Fund. The award, which recognises best practice standards for mothers and babies, was given following a two-day inspection earlier this year.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a global programme which supports breastfeeding and parent infant relationships by providing a practical and effective way for health services to improve and standardise the care for all mothers and babies. The initiative provides a framework for the implementation of best practice by NHS trusts, other health care facilities and higher education institutions, with the aim of ensuring that all parents make informed decisions about feeding their babies and are supported in their chosen feeding method.
The award has four different levels and the Torbay health visiting team have just received the level 3 baby friendly award.
Chris Timmon, Professional Lead for Public Health Nursing at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT) said: “We are delighted to receive this national international accreditation and we are incredibility proud of the service we provide. The Trust decided to join forces with UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative to unify and improve care and support for all mothers in Torbay. Another important factor for us was to look at ways in which we could increase the amount of breastfeeding mothers.
“Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and baby but we know that it isn’t always easy for mum’s and babies in the beginning, so having the right support is crucial.
“Regardless of a mother’s feeding choice our aim is always to provide the very best support to mothers and babies to help them get the very best start in life. The team will now be looking to maintain the high standard recognised by the award and look at ways in which it can continue to develop this much valued service.”
The assessment consisted of four different venues being visited by the assessors who approached staff and families to discuss if the standards of UNICEF were being upheld. Assessors also called 41 women in the area by phone to complete the assessment.
The local team was complimented on its high standard of care, support, information and advice that is provided from the Health Visitor Service. Several mothers also highlighted the use of social media, with the TSDFT Breastfeeding Facebook page as a key source of support.
Deputy Mayor and Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing and Corporate Services, Cllr Derek Mills, said: “This is a wonderful moment for our health visitors to be recognised for their hard work and dedication to ensure families have the very best start in life.
“A UNICEF award is not only a highly recognised accreditation but a mark for the level of service our wonderful health visitors provide to families on a daily basis.”
Around 81 per cent of babies are breastfed at birth but by six months this figure falls to just one in three babies. Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life. Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it is easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle-feeding.
If you are, a new mother or an expectant mum who wants to know more about the support and advice available locally you can contact your health visiting team directly or visit www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk for more information.