East Renfrewshire's Health Visiting Team has become the country’s first to be presented with UNICEF accreditation for excellence in promoting parent – infant relationships.
Anne Tainsh, Professional Officer for the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative, joined staff and families at the Baby Cafe Breast Feeding Support Group in the Arthurlie Family Centre to present the certificate.
The HSCP was declared a gold baby friendly service in the summer 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 guide and nurture parent and infant relationships.
BFI supports Health Visitors to work with East Renfrewshire parents to develop 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 shown that loving relationships with parents and families promotes brain development in babies.
At the presentation, the health visiting service was highly commended for the way it works to ensure there are continued improvements in outcomes for babies, their mothers and families as a whole.
The ongoing excellent training staff receive and the culture of kindness between staff and patients was also recognised.
Julie Murray, East Renfrewshire HSCP Chief Officer, said: “It’s a wonderful achievement for the HSCP to be receive this certificate from UNICEF today at the Baby Cafe.
“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.
“Our Health Visiting Team supports parents to have close and loving relationships with their baby and encourages breast feeding where possible.
“The Baby Friendly Initiative makes a huge difference to these babies and their families, by recognising the lifeline that breastmilk provides and the importance of close, loving, parent-child relationships for babies’ development and life chances.”
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.