Barnsley’s community health, children centre programme and maternity services are celebrating after achieving Stage 3 of UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI).
The prestigious BFI Award ensures a high level of care for pregnant women, mothers, babies and families around all aspects of infant feeding and the promotion of breast feeding. The success of this award means that mothers, babies and families in Barnsley are receiving consistent information to support and promote safe infant feeding. By adopting Baby Friendly practices, health professionals and staff working with children in the community can give mothers the support, information and encouragement to continue their chosen method of feeding for as long as they wish.
Barnsley is unique in its approach to the accreditation as the Trust works in partnership with Barnsley Hospital, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, and local voluntary sector organisations to commit to helping Barnsley be a Baby Friendly town. Stage 3 Accreditation is part of a journey that Barnsley health and children’s services began in 2007 when a joint commitment to be a Baby Friendly town was made.
The Baby Friendly Initiative sets out standards of care for all mothers so that they are equipped with the knowledge and support to make fully informed choices as to how they wish to feed their babies and are encouraged to develop a close and loving relationship with them. Research shows breast feeding is a key contributor in improving the attachment and bonding between mother and baby and offers good nutrition which has a long-term impact on health.
Anita McCrum, lead nurse for health visiting at the Trust, said: “Achieving Stage 3 Accreditation is a great achievement for our services and partners. It is testament to the hard work we have all put in and the partnership work that has taken place. Working with partner organisations gives us the chance to share best practice and improve. We are all really proud of the work we have accomplished and the high pass marks we received for each of the stages reflect the effort we have put in.
At the same time as ensuring a consistent approach and measuring our work against national standards, BFI accreditation gives us the opportunity to evidence and quantify the work that goes on in the community. These achievements show the excellent training that staff undergo and the dedication they have for going above and beyond every day duties. Staff continue to refresh their skills and complete regular refresher courses to ensure we keep improving.”
Having passed Stage 2 in 2011, the focus moved on to ensuring that the Baby Friendly standards are implemented for all pregnant women and new mothers. Once internal audit results indicated that the standards were being achieved, the Stage 3 assessment could commence. This involved Baby Friendly assessors visiting facilities in Barnsley and interviewing pregnant women and new mothers about the care they have received. Now that Stage 3 has been reached Barnsley is accredited as Baby Friendly.
The initial accreditation lasts for two years; after this, a reassessment of all the standards will be carried out. All accredited facilities must also collect breastfeeding statistics and audit compliance with their policy and submit the results to the Baby Friendly Initiative office every year. The results of the audit should be used to ensure that high standards are being maintained and improved.
Anita added, “I’d like to thank our health visitor/community practice teacher Diane Kistell for her commitment to embedding BFI in to health visiting practice and James Townsend business operations officer for collecting and analysing the required detail for the successful achievement to the award.”
The award was presented on Wednesday 15th May at a celebration event held at Barnsley Town Hall. Mayor Elect, Councillor Ken Richardson and Councillors Jenny Platts, Margaret Bruff and Margaret Morgan, along with Acting Director of Public Health Sharon Stoltz, health professionals, children centre professionals and families from across the borough were all in attendance at the celebration event.