Health visitors in North Yorkshire have received international recognition for their care for parents and their children.
The Growing Healthy North Yorkshire 0-5 Health Visiting Service has been awarded Stage 2 Baby Friendly accreditation by Unicef.
“This award is entirely due to their hard work in providing the best possible care for mums-to-be, children and families”
The service, run by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, covers all of North Yorkshire, giving children under five access to routine appointments by health visitors and assistant practitioners.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, run by Unicef, is a global programme based on a set of standards designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby.
In addition, it is designed to promote breastfeeding and giving support to mothers with feeding their baby.
An assessment of the North Yorkshire service revealed the staff were equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement the baby friendly standards, said Unicef inspectors in a report.
It also said that staff in the service presented a positive approach towards implementing the standards, displaying “enthusiasm and commitment” towards providing an effective training programme.
In addition, the assessment team was very impressed by the approach taken to ensure that education of staff had been organised on such a large scale, resulting in excellent results.
Harrogate District Hospital
Meanwhile, infant feeding co-ordinator Debbie Stuart was described in the report as “gold dust” and a valuable asset to the team’s achievement.
Ms Stuart, who works closely with North Yorkshire County Council colleagues and the health visiting service, was also praised for providing strong leadership and expertise to enable joint success.
To achieve stage 2 accreditation, services much have demonstrated they have planned an education programme that will allow staff to implement the “baby friendly” standards according to their role.
To reach this point, they must have previously gained stage 1 by having written policies and guidelines in place to support the standards.
There is also a further stage, involving processes for implementing, auditing and evaluating the standards. The trust will now work towards achieving stage 3, or full, accreditation in April next year.
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Paul Simpson, general manager for Growing Healthy North Yorkshire, said: “We are such an enthusiastic, dedicated team here in North Yorkshire and everyone should be proud of what we’ve achieved.”
He added: “This award is entirely due to their hard work in providing the best possible care for mums-to-be, children and families right across North Yorkshire.”
“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,” said Mr Simpson.
This award adds to those previously received by the trust’s maternity unit and special care baby unit at Harrogate District Hospital.
The majority of maternity units and health visiting services – 91% and 89% respectively – across the UK are currently working towards Baby Friendly accreditation, according to Unicef.