Blog on Baby Week Leeds – Roger Carter, NHS Digital
What a week!! It’s rare that I get the opportunity to take the time out to really envelop myself in a subject that ticks all the boxes in being something relevant to my work, important to me as a Loiner and something that I am hugely passionate about as a family guy. #BabyWeekLeeds did just that.
I’ve been a Child Friendly Leeds (CFL) Ambassador pretty much since the start. My daughter donated the much loved @LeedsTed and I took Ted on his very first Child Friendly journey to Italy 4 years ago to the day. I’ve no babies in the pipeline so why did I go to #BabyWeekLeeds? There’s no simple answer and you could tell that from those who attended the opening session at the Crowne Plaza. People went for all sorts of reasons; to learn more about the services available to women and families in Leeds, to network with like-minded health and care professionals, to get a free Baby Box or meet up in a baby and child friendly place for a coffee and cake. It didn’t matter too much about why, just being there was important!
I can’t capture every session and every stand out moment across the week but I will try and articulate why this was so important to me and some of my favourite memories. It was great to catch up with some familiar faces too from the CFL team and some of the keynote speakers such as Sheena Byrom OBE of #CatchingBabies fame. I have to shout out to Errol from @LeedsDads.
I work at NHS Digital, leading a digital programme to help transform maternity services and early years by creating an electronic record and ensuring that the right info reaches the right person at the right time – professionals and families alike. The outcomes will be a better experience, continuity of safe care, massively reduced admin burden and the start of what is likely to become a personal health record that will continue with the child for their whole life. It also supports changes that will halve the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths in England by 2030. This is all part of Better Births.
Turning up at the launch I brought some of my team; a project manager, a midwife and a business analyst. Everything was as normal for the events we are used to attending – round table conferencing (tick), coffee (tick), Agenda (tick). The best surprise was where ordinarily I’m sat next to another of my suited brethren, instead I was in the mix of babies being nurtured, toddlers roaming with balloon ‘trackers’ tied to them and the odd inquisitive kid staring up at me intently. The suited facade melted away and I got into my familiar Dad mode – relaxed, smiling and enjoying the fun children bring. One of my younger table guests had drawn some phenomenal scribbles – a natural born table facilitator perhaps?! It reminded me of the TV advert where all the grown-ups have kids voices. I got more sense from them than some of the meetings I get to attend!
It was game face on for the Conference events over at the University of Leeds. We know a ton about midwifery and NHS based organisations and how to meet their needs already. But there’s no way I want to neglect the broader set of community services that support women, families and children throughout pregnancy and through to early years. What is it that these services need? How can we help? Will the work we do create opportunities or have negative impacts on the delivery of care and support in communities?
One thing that struck me was the diversity and breadth of services available. Home Start, Infant Mental Health, Young Parents, Teenage Pregnancy, Family Integrated Care, Bereavement Services, Children’s Centres, Perinatal Mental Health, City of Sanctuary. Some were familiar, others less so – all dependent on the needs of the family and circumstances. Some people will sail through having kids and for others it’s a struggle. Stuff happens along the way. Some of these services are a real safety net for the child, the woman or the family. There was a palpable commitment to improving outcomes in Leeds and this was personified in Steve ‘the Penguin’ Walker – Director of Children’s Services.
Frankly, I felt it must be a real challenge to tap into all of these services as a user (you don’t know what you don’t know). On the upside many of these services will come as a result of recommendation and referral but I felt having a front door to all of these was something that at a national level we would like to help with. It fits with what we are doing and the principle of do something once and sharing for reuse. If we don’t do more of this, both social care and the NHS will sink. There’s so much that these services in Leeds can bang the drum about. Why not showcase local strengths to other parts of the country? I’m sure there are things that could be learnt from other areas too.
#BabyWeekLeeds left me feeling proud of what happens in the city and that for many remains unseen. I didn’t get to the baby sensory cafes, the soft play and all the other fun stuff that went on as part of the week but I heard they were awesome. The next step for me is to take the learning and reflect this at a national level into my work to ensure that, as we support change in maternity and early years, nobody gets left behind.
1) #BabyWeekLeeds could be regional or even national – It’s fab
2) Child Friendly is in the everyday – everyone can make a difference
3) I made some new friends and lots of follow ups to do good things.
Thank you to Lucy, Sadiya, Jane-Kaye and the team for making this event happen and for helping give babies the Best Start in life.
On the 20th May, I was invited to the 18th Semana do Bebe conference in Canela in the southern state of Brazil - Rio Grande do Sul. The launch for that weekend was an official opening with a statement speech by Dr. Carmen Nudelmann who I met three years ago. She is now the patron of Semana do Bebe and spoke about it's journey over the years.
The main presentation for me was on Saturday 20th May at 4pm. It was exciting to be back there were I was first inspired. I had prepared the presentation about the journey for implementing the Semana do Bebe initiative to Leeds. I spoke about how we had started as small team and slowly brought different groups together from the public, voluntary and private sectors of the city. They were really impressed with how much we had done in two years of organising, and I explained that the family, children's and maternity services were all there, it was just a matter of bringing them altogether to celebrate for one week.
I was really interested in the developments from Recife government who shared the table with me, Cardiologist and Pediatrician and also the First Lady Cristina Mello and Eliane Germano Executive Secretary of Health Care from the government offices who I briefly met last year when I went to present our plans to implement Baby Week in 2016. They were only in their 3rd year of implementing the Semana do Bebe, so two years ahead of us, but already making improvements to standards of clinics and engaging families. They explained about being proactive in responding the needs of all children including special needs especially after the outbreak of the Zika. They also mentioned engaging tourism and housing into their strategy and everyone involved with children. Following the tradition they present a key to the baby mayor and look forward to hearing the developments with that mother and child over the year. It was fascinating just how close Leeds is to Recife in similar thinking, as they too have policies including the; '1001 days' they recognise as being critical in helping to support babies and that how 'one week can be critical in helping change a babies life'.
After the presentation I met with Cristina and Eliane and said how inspired I had been with their work and we spoke animatedly about how we could join our organisations together to work in partnership regards to Baby Week in the future. They were keen to work at joining up with us on their student exchange program already established in Recife.
It was great to feel part of where it all began 18 years and how other municipalities have adapted the initiative to help their local communities.
The Baby Week team are currently getting ready for the next Baby Week in September 2017 (11th -17th). Keep watching the website for eventbrite updates
On Thursday 30 March 2017 Leeds Beckett facilitated our third Baby Week meeting of the year at the City Campus. We welcomed the Baby Champion Aryton and mum Leila to the meeting.
Among professionals were Judith Shalkowski and Liz Ranson from ChildsSide. They discussed possible training session opportunities in children's centres during baby week, and the great work they do to support grandparents.
We also talked to Shelley King from City of Sanctuary about their positive work currently undergoing with families of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Leeds. Also, to find a way to fit their creative approaches such as; a photo exhibition into Baby Week and help promote their services to a wider audience.
Lead midwife on the maternity strategy Sarah Bennett helped move forward progress with guest speakers in perinatal mental health. And Lynn Farr representing Infant Mental Health services also offered suggestions in making the two day conference (Tuesday and the Wednesday) an exciting event.
If you would like to ask any questions on Baby Week 2017 or would like to be involved please contact C.Brooke@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.
,Wednesday 8 March 2017 I attended the Best Start Zone event hosted by the charity Health for All at Belle Isle Family Centre. Health for All have been the main charity which has supported the early years initiative for support to families in south Leeds - Beeston Hill, Belle Isle, Holbeck and Hunslet funded by Leeds SE Clinical Commissioning group who helped make Baby Week happen too. The event was to present the 2017 Year End Summary and had many of the partner services working with families in the community today.
To get a better idea of the families experience I spoke to service users and they were really pleased with the friendliness of the staff and the variety of information on offer. This has helped get a good idea for they want to see at Baby Week September 11th - 16th this year.
Last Friday (10 February 2017) We met our Baby Champion Aryton and mum Leila Farhang. Aryton was born on Monday 12 September 2016 in Leeds which was the first day of Baby Week 2016. Ayrton will become the first Baby Champion which follows in the footsteps of how Semana do Bebe in Brazil mark the growth of Baby Week. We contacted all the mums who had their babies on that day through the Leeds Hospital Trust and Leila contacted us to say she was interested. Ayrton will be the face of the next baby week and we welcome Leila to share all her experiences as a mum and family life through a blog on this website and hopefully attend the launch of Baby Week 2017.
Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of Baby Week.
picture below, Ayrton and Leila Farhang and Lucy Potter
Today I met up with the Oulton and Woodlesford Childminding Group. I had got in touch with registered childminder Helen Greaves the week before to see how they could get involved with the activities throughout Baby Week. I thought that it would be a good idea to promote the importance of a childminders role in how they help support the social and cognitive development of the children in their care and of course celebrate the good work they do.
Infant Massage is known for it's bonding and communicative qualities as well as physical aspects including help with relaxation and relief. Childminders have a big responsibility and infant massage can not only help childminders strengthen a positive bond but also recognise individual needs of the children in their care. Helen had requested permission from the two infants parents, and together with Sue Ruddock, Helen's registered childminding assistant we covered all aspects of baby massage in a one off session.
We settled in the play area which is where the childminders meet twice a week. They offer a close network of support and provide activities for other childminders in their area.
The children settled straight into the massage starting with the legs and the feet. The babies were relaxed and happy to be centre of attention for half an hour. We concentrated on the leg and the tummy exercises. Helen instantly saw the benefits and remarked 'how helpful this is going to be when helping to relax and ease digestion troubles.'
Thanks guys hope you enjoyed the session and look forward to working with you again as plans for Baby Week 2017 develop.
Today was the first closing ceremony to conclude the first Baby Week in the UK. The morning was greeted with a thunderstorm and a full moon was waxing, but the rains cleared as people started to gather in the Banquetting Suite (Civic Hall), A large wood panelled room that feels like big front room with long sash windows looking out over Millennium Square.
The inside perimeter of the room was slowly taken up with stall holders promoting services from Private, Health, Social care and third sector services. The guest speakers were Cllr Mulherin, Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Andy Lloyd, Errol Murray (Leeds Dads) and a talk with the Young Dads collective. We watched a slideshow with a preview of the weeks photos. Most of the room was taken up with stall holders and about 20 more people come to visit.
Cllr Mulherin, recognised Baby Week as a spring board onto another year. There were group discussions around the room regarding what to bring to next year's event. Would it wise to book Hilary in for 2017 now.?
The pram parade started with two mums at 3 pm in Millennium Square. As the sun got a bit hotter we had an physical workout with our buggys, as Sharon from Bumps and Babes led the growing group around the square. Sharon says the physical aspect for a women's health after birth and paramount. Yorkshire Evening post photographer and MADE in Leeds took up tripod.
We have concluded a family group so that it looks forward to a new year, a new baby week and that means more family engagement at the beginning of next year.
Thank you everyone involved. Thank you also to Delton Jackson who took the majority of these photographs.
Two Willow's in Beeston hosted their New Lives group this afternoon along with Sally Goodwin Mills from the Breast Feeding Peer Support group.
On the other side of Leeds at Bankside Children Centre in Harehills another activity was taking place
Included in the Baby Week activity sheet for Thursday afternoon was the Maternity Strategy Engagment event which took place in the centre of town at the public library. This fell in time with the Maternity Service Liasion Committee who meet every two month and provides a chance for service users to meet Clinicians and midwive's in the maternity services helping to share thoughts and experiences from both sides. Issues and concerns are raised but the main purpose of the meetings are there for improving maternity services. This meeting is hosted by Megan Waugh MSLC chair and she is employed by Women's Health Matters a charity based in South Leeds. This has been a good. example of how the charity sector has partnered with the Leeds Hospital Trust and Public Health.
The engagement event that occured in the afternoon saw many professionals networking and promoting their services including 'Leeds Involving People'who are helping support the Maternity Strategy with and developing a perintal mental health pathway.