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Infant Feeding Team go for gold

NHS Ayrshire & Arran and the three Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnerships have been awarded UNICEF’s top accolade for providing high quality care to families to support continued breastfeeding.

The Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) Gold accreditation certificate was presented to representatives from across the four organisations on Wednesday 22 March at an event held at Fullarton Connexions in Irvine.

The prestigious award was achieved in November last year following an assessment of Ayrshire’s Health Visiting and Family Nurse Partnership Teams, as well as the Community Infant Feeding Team.

BFI standards provide a framework to ensure that infant feeding care delivered to families is evidence-based, consistent, and supports staff to deliver a service that provides the best possible care for new families.

Breastfeeding promotes optimum growth and development for babies, providing nutrition, comfort and protection from infection, and as such is promoted and supported across Ayrshire and Arran.

However, the award also recognises the care provided to families who are formula feeding and encourages responsive feeding as a way of establishing close, loving relationships with the baby.

Having first been awarded Baby Friendly accreditation in 2012, followed by subsequent re-accreditation in 2014, 2017 and 2020, the Gold Award builds on this accomplishment with a particular focus on achieving sustainability.

As part of the assessment process, UNICEF audited families who had accessed infant feeding support in Ayrshire within the last year, with 93 per cent of mothers responding that they were ‘very happy’ with their care.

Feedback from a staff survey within the assessment was equally positive, highlighting a ‘motivated workforce’ and a ‘supportive, encouraging and kind culture’.

Additionally, the written report part of the assessment was praised for being incredibly positive, with the portfolio of evidence being ‘highly commended for the quality of evidence submitted and the thorough way in which the necessary processes to embed and further develop the Baby Friendly standards has been planned and implemented’.

Handing over the award to staff, Janet Dalzell, Professional Lead for UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative in Scotland, said:I am very proud to present this award, which recognises outstanding leadership, positive culture to support staff and families, effective monitoring of infant feeding services and examples of progressing services to meet local need.

“This is a prestigious award and has involved local mothers, staff, managers and senior leaders from the organisations and has been approved by an independent designation committee.”

Councillor Margaret Johnson, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at North Ayrshire Council, said: “As the lead partnership for infant feeding in Ayrshire, North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership is delighted to have achieved this award alongside our colleagues in NHS Ayrshire & Arran and the HSCPs in South and East Ayrshire.

“Retaining this Gold standard is now our benchmark, and we look forward to continuing to deliver, progress, monitor and evaluate our infant feeding services to ensure we continue to provide this high level of care to families across Ayrshire.

“I would like to congratulate the teams involved for all of the hard work and dedication involved in working towards this outstanding achievement.”

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