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Baby Friendly success for Southend’s neonatal unit

24 April 2015

Health Care

Southend University Hospital’s neonatal unit has been awarded Stage 1 accreditation of the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative neonatal enhanced standards, becoming one of only four units in the country - and the only unit in the east of England - to do so.

The Stage 1 assessment is designed to ensure that the necessary policies, guidelines, information and mechanisms are in place to allow health care providers to effectively implement the Baby Friendly standards; the unit was found to have met all of the standards for Stage 1 accreditation.

In her report UNICEF's UK Baby Friendly Initiative deputy programme director, Carmel Duffy, spoke of 'a family centred approach within the unit' and 'excellent innovation in place with breast milk valued and emphasis on developmental care and involving parents as full partners in their baby's care.'

The report also praises the unit's innovative music therapy session, a newly-introduced activity designed to involve parents and siblings in the bonding process through music.

Senior neonatal sister, Emily Gaff, said: "We're delighted to have achieved this accreditation which acknowledges the high standards of care the team provides to vulnerable babies and their families.

"Research has shown that playing music can help with the bonding process which is key to brain development, so for one hour in the afternoon we play music such as nursery rhymes or Disney songs in the special care nursery.

"We've had some really positive feedback from parents who feel it offers some light relief at what can be a stressful and emotional time. It's also a way of including the whole family - we often have grandparents and siblings singing along to the songs!"

The team is now working towards Stage 2 which they hope to achieve by the end of the year.

This is the latest Baby Friendly award for the hospital whose maternity services already hold a Stage 2 Baby Friendly accreditation jointly with South Essex Partnership Trust (SEPT).