iHV welcomes a new report published today by the First 1001 Days Movement (F10001D) which provides insight into the impacts of COVID-19 and the Spring 2020 lockdown on babies.

The report, Working for Babies: Lockdown lessons from local systems, presents hard-hitting findings about the direct and indirect harm to babies, young children and their families caused by the pandemic. These “hidden harms” were broad and significant, and experienced unevenly depending on family circumstances and background.  Historically inadequate or insecure funding, and a rising tide of need, has inhibited the ability of some services and local systems to respond to the needs of babies and their families during the pandemic. There were often ‘baby blind-spots’ where babies’ needs were overlooked in policy, planning and funding.

However, the report also provides some “good news stories” of organisations and systems which reacted and adapted positively to the pandemic. The report introduces the concept of “baby-positive” local responses and provides the beginnings of a formula for what good local systems should look like. In particular, it sets out the positive difference that was made by professionals who were connected to each other, and to their communities, and were empowered to meet families’ needs.

Most importantly, the report seeks to ensure that lessons are learned for the future of service provision for this age group. It provides further evidence of the importance of many things that the iHV campaigns for, such as clear leadership, a focus on babies’ needs, and a joined-up response.

Alison Morton, Acting Executive Director of the iHV said:

This report adds further weight to the growing body of evidence on the direct and indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families with babies and young children. The message is clear, despite the indisputable evidence that the first 1001 days are the most crucial period of human development, babies and young children have largely been forgotten in the national pandemic response. Now we know better, we must do better.

“We hope the report brings a much-needed tipping point for change. It provides a powerful impetus to the Government to focus their efforts on the things that matter most by investing in our youngest citizens, to put things right and achieve their ambition to ‘build back better’.”

Working for Babies: Lockdown lessons from local systems

The report will be officially launched today at the APPG on Conception to Age Two meeting. For those not able to secure a space on at the APPG meeting itself, F1001D will be live streaming it at 3pm this afternoon via the Parent Infant Foundation YouTube channel. It will also be available to watch back later.

Please get involved by talking about the report on your social media channels! Get involved with the conversation and the report by using the hashtags #WorkingForBabies  #BabyBlindSpots on social media.

 

 

Paediatricians, health visitors and GPs have joined forces to produce guidance for parents who are worried about their new baby.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has joined forces with the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM – part of the RCPCH), the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to produce a ‘fridge’ poster which signposts when and where parents should seek help for babies aged three months and under.

Over the summer, paediatricians reported that a small number of children may have become seriously ill because of delays in accessing health services*.  Health professionals are concerned that such delays could happen again this winter as some paediatricians are reporting seeing far fewer children than they would have expected.

Parents may not know they are still able to have face-to-face consultations, may find it difficult to get an appointment quickly when worried, or may be concerned about COVID transmission.  Added to this, new parents in some parts of the country have not had the usual access to health visitors (many of whom were redeployed into other roles during the pandemic), and lockdowns have meant some have not been able to see their extended families, friends and other parents.

Dr Helen Mactier, President of BAPM, said:

“Being a new parent can be daunting at any time, but having a new baby during a pandemic can throw up a lot of additional challenges for many families – even more so under lockdown.

“Many parents haven’t had the usual access to routine face-to-face appointments with a healthcare professional or been able to discuss a change in their baby’s appearance or behaviour with other new parents or their own friends and family. That can be really worrying.

“We want to let parents know what should or shouldn’t be of concern with regard to their baby’s health, and to put their minds at rest that the NHS is here for them if their baby is unwell.”

Dr Cheryll Adams, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“We’re delighted to support the publication of these new information posters and will be distributing them widely to health visitors and parents.  COVID-19 has shone a light on the challenges for new parents who may not be sure whether a change of behaviour or appearance in their new baby suggests that they are unwell.  These posters make clear when they should seek help which will be very reassuring.”

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Children rarely become ill with COVID-19 but there are other conditions which can be serious if left untreated.  We want parents of young children to seek medical help when they are concerned about the health of their child – and to know that despite lockdown restrictions, general practice services are available, although they might be delivered in a different way than usual. Where necessary, face-to-face appointments will be facilitated in as safe a way as possible. This guidance will help people to decide when they should get help as well as when they don’t need to worry.”

*https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2020/11/02/archdischild-2020-320565

   https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2020/06/24/archdischild-2020-319848

A new e-learning programme has been launched to help healthcare professionals improve outcomes for babies, mothers and families through the delivery of safer care.

The learning modules, developed by Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare, NHS Improvement and a range of experts, focus on four clinical areas:

  • respiratory conditions
  • hypoglycaemia
  • jaundice
  • asphyxia (perinatal hypoxia–ischaemia).

An additional module also raises awareness of the importance of keeping mother and baby together.

The programme is part of the Avoiding Term Admissions unto Neonatal units “Atain” initiative, which aims to reduce avoidable causes of harm that can lead to infants born at term (ie ≥ 37+0 weeks gestation) being admitted to a neonatal unit.

 

 

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) announces the publication of new Parent Tips aimed at helping parents and carers reduce the risk of dogs harming babies and children.

Having a dog in the family has many benefits – from making children very happy and confident, through to teaching them about responsibility and learning how to respect living things. We often see dogs as being “part of the family”, but we do need to remember that dogs are a different species.  This guide provides advice to parents looking forward to welcoming a new baby into the home, as well as those who already have children and a dog in the household. This advice should be shared with friends, neighbours, carers and relatives.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director, iHV, said:

“Far too often we hear tragic news stories of a baby or young child being attacked by the family pet.  As a parent, it’s important you take steps to ensure your child and your dog can live happily together – making sure your young child knows how to behave around your dog will help to keep them safe. There is a lot that parents can do to reduce the risk of dogs harming babies and children – and our new Parent Tips provides this advice for parents and carers.”

From the dog’s point of view, children behave very differently to adults – they are unpredictable and make a lot of noise. In addition, children tend to interact with dogs in the same way as they do with their friends – they hug them, cuddle them and tell them off. Children also use very close facial contact which is very different to dog social behaviour and many dogs can find it threatening.  It is for these reasons that children are more likely to be bitten than any other population group. Research also shows that people are far more likely to be bitten by a dog owned by their own family than an unfamiliar dog. This means that children are in the highest risk group for being bitten by their own family dog.

Dr Adams continued:

“Dogs are an intrinsic part of many families’ lives so it’s important that parents take appropriate steps to ensure that their children and dogs can live together safely and happily.  Please share our tips with friends and family.”

Parent Tips - Keeping babies and children safe around dogs in the home

Parent Tips – Keeping babies and children safe around dogs in the home