How can I help address inequalities and support growth and development in 0- 3 years?

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Key messages for parents, grandparents and other care-givers

Those who care for children can be supported to aid the development of listening and attention skills and speech, language and communication in 0-3s through promotion of the following key messages:

  • Mothers who are able should be encouraged to breastfeed until six months.
  • Information should be provided for parents on the benefits and how to breastfeed in the NHS Health Scotland guide Off to a Good Start (external link).
  • Support parents to ensure infants and children get the food they need and are weaned well - see advice in our section on Nutrition and inequalities in 0-3s.
  • Parents should be supported to look after their own and their child's mental health - see advice our section on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Parents should be supported to help their child feel secure by reacting positively to 'attention seeking' behaviours - see advice in our section on parenting.
  • Parents should be encouraged to have fun with their children and play, talk and read with them daily - see advice in our sections on play@home and speech, language and communication development.
  • Parents and carers should be supported to to make sure their home is a safe place for children - see advice our section on child safety.
  • Parents who are having difficulties or who are worried about their child's growth and development, should be encouraged to seek help early and speak to their Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.

Information on parenting issues and details of local sources of support can be found by visiting Parenting Across Scotland (external link) or call ParentLine Scotland on 0800 028 2233.

Please also see below for further resources.

Nursery school staff and childminders

In addition to the advice given above for parents:

  • raise any problems you encounter with the child's parents
  • be prepared to explain your observations in ways they can understand while recommending sources of information and support
  • make sure you have access to a range of parent information resources in a variety of formats
  • encourage parents to seek further help early if problems are suspected and be ready with details of supportive organisations and services.

Lots of tips, advice and suggestions for activities are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website.

Please also see below for further resources.

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Midwives, health visitors and social workers

Midwives, health visitors and social workers are ideally placed to develop trusting, respectful communicative relationships with parents of the type research has shown they most value and to assess and, where necessary, help improve the nature of the family's home environment.

Midwives, health visitors and social workers can help support growth and development in the following ways:

  • encourage and support breastfeeding, good weaning practice and good nutrition - give access to NHS Health Scotland guide Off to a Good Start (external link) and see advice in our section on nutrition
  • ensure post-partum assessment for depression and encourage activities and techniques known to be supportive of infant mental health - see advice our section on mental health and wellbeing
  • maintain a focus on interventions that help develop secure attachment and sensitive interaction between parents and their children - advice in our section on parenting
  • help create and maintain positive home learning environments - see advice in our sections on play@home and speech, language and communication development
  • observe good 'Inclusive Communication Practice' as set out in Principles of Inclusive Communication - A self-assessment tool for public authorities
  • use the 'Teach-Back Technique' to help ensure important information has been adequately understood: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb)
  • ensure that fathers are equally consulted and informed in matters concerning the health, development and wellbeing of their children (except where precluded by child protection concerns).

Please also see the advice given below for GPs and practice nurses.

Service managers and commissioners

Service managers and commissioners can:

  • ensure that staff who have contact with parents have the time to explain any advice or information given
  • provide continuing professional development opportunities for staff to encourage and assist them to provide more personalised information and support in ways that parents understand and appreciate
  • provide CPD training for professionals and practitioners around meeting the needs of young mothers
  • provide training and support that encourages mutual understanding, respect and effective two-way communication between parents and professionals
  • ensure services are accessible to all, relevant to vulnerable families and consistent with public sector policy commitments
  • ensure public health campaigns and information on services are accessible to those with a range of communication support needs
  • where new information resources are being developed, ensure that fathers and the different parenting situations they encounter (e.g. lone fathers, non-resident) are equally represented in content and imagery
  • consider whether specific father only information resources may be appropriate.

GPs and practice nurses

Professionals working in general practice are the most preferred and trusted source of health information for parents.

  • See advice and links to specific guidance given above for midwives, health visitors and social workers.
  • Make sure you have access to a range of take-away parent information resources in a variety of formats.
  • Refer onwards or encourage parents to seek further help early if problems are suspected and be ready with details of supportive organisations and services.
  • Refer early for speech and language therapy (SLT) assessment if speech, language and communications difficulties are suspected - see the NHS Lothian guidelines for referral to SLT (MSWord Download - 116Kb).
  • Ensure that fathers are equally consulted and informed in matters concerning the health, development and wellbeing of their children (except where precluded by child protection concerns).

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Voluntary sector workers and managers

Voluntary sector agencies can:

  • ensure that staff who have contact with parents are able (and have the time) to clearly explain any advice or information given in ways the parents can understand
  • encourage use of the 'Teach-Back Technique' to help ensure important information has been adequately understood: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb)
  • seek and provide continuing professional development opportunities for staff to encourage and assist them to provide more personalised information and support in ways that parents understand and appreciate
  • seek out and provide training and support that encourages mutual understanding, respect and effective two-way communication between parents and professionals.

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