Raising awareness of first aid and health and safety at home, Sunshine Children's Centre, Milton Keynes

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Early Years
  • Safeguarding
  • General resources

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Sunshine Children’s Centre

Local authority/local area:

Milton Keynes

The context and rationale

This is an initiative to provide parents and carers in the reach areas of a cluster of three children’s centres with free first aid courses to give them confidence to deal with common injuries such as choking, burns and scalds likely to occur at home. 

Background and aims
The aim of the activity is to provide first aid and health and safety courses to parents/carers with children aged under 5 living in the reach areas of the cluster of three children’s centres in the west flank of Milton Keynes. 

The three children’s centres work closely together and families cross over reach areas to access the centre nearest to them. We also share health practices – chiefly Westcroft, Watling Vale and Hill Tops Great Holm. We work collaboratively together in a number of ways and find this has positive benefits in many ways. 

All three children’s centre’s meet regularly with the health visiting teams and share information on families which has highlighted the need for training on home safety and first aid.

There were a number of reasons why we considered this intervention to be particularly appropriate for our reach area: 

1. Research on accident statistics (see below)
2. Anecdotal information gathered from discussions with health visitors indicated that they felt it would be very beneficial for parents/carers of young children to raise awareness of how to deal with emergencies in the home to give parents/carers confidence to deal with any accidents 
3. Parents/carers are asked to complete a termly consultation to identify their priorities for services provided by the centres and first aid is consistently mentioned as a key priority 
4. From sessions with the community dieititian it became apparent that some parents are reluctant to move on from purees when their children are weaned because of concerns over choking and this has implications for speech and language development. If we can give parents the confidence to allow their children to try new textures this may have a positive impact on speech and language development. 
5. Many parents/carers find the cost of a first aid course difficult to manage and we are becoming increasing aware that families in our reach area are struggling financially in the current economic climate.

Aims of the programme:
• To provide first aid for babies and children courses and health and safety at home courses for parents/carers within the reach areas of the three centres. 
• To raise awareness of health and safety issues to local childcare settings. This had the added advantage of helping develop closer working relationships with our local childcare providers. 
• To provide families with a basic first aid kit that would contain all the appropriate contents.

Knowledge base of need
National organisations such as RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and the Child Accident Prevention Trust report that children under 5 years are most at risk of an accident in the home. The main types of accidents being falls, burns and scalds and poisoning and boys are more likely to have accidents than girls. 

Causes of hospital admissions 0-4s (UK data)*: 
72% - Falls
18% - Poisoning
9% - Burns/scalds
1% - Other effects of fire e.g. smoke inhalation. 

Milton Keynes PCT information shows that the number of emergency hospital admissions for children aged 0-17 years in the reach areas covered by the children’s centres has increased in 2009/10 (latest available figures). Anecdotal information gathered from discussions with health visitors indicate that they feel it would be very beneficial for parents/carers of young children to raise awareness of how to deal with accidents. 

West locality cluster health data** (all children’s centres involved in the project are based in the west locality of Milton Keynes for health services): 

Key objectives 
1. Raise awareness of health and safety issues for parents/carers and childcare practitioners. 
2. Give parents/ carers confidence to deal with minor first aid emergencies and know when to seek appropriate medical help. 
3. Data from PCT will show a decrease in the number of accident and emergency admissions to hospital for under 5s living in the reach areas of the children’s centres involved. 

* see www.makingthelink.net
** Milton Keynes Community Health: Service Profile of Health Visitors 2010-11

The practice

Our aim was for these sessions to be a mix of targeted families (referrals from health visitors and social care) with some places being advertised within the children’s centres. We have found in the past that a mix of families ensures maximum participation and better value for money. Each first aid course ran for three hours and the health and safety courses for two hours. 

1. We consulted with health visitors to identify families in most need. We also worked with Children’s Social Care to identify families who might be suitable.
2. We consulted with parents about what first aid emergencies they wanted to have more information on (each term we ask centre users to complete a consultation form on services they require) (example from Sunshine Children’s Centre: approx 120 users consulted, 35 requested first aid course). 
3. We arranged suitable dates to run courses – one each month for First Aid at different children’s centre’s. Identified one centre to host health and a safety course and one to host health and safety for childcarers. We tried to offer a range of days and times (for maximum flexibility) with two of the first aid courses running on a Saturday morning and the course for childcare providers running in the evening. 
4. We identified an experienced service provider who could cover the range of topics that parents wanted discussed. 
5. We advertised courses on calendars and the Sure Start website. 
6. We contacted local childcare providers. 

Key Partners
Health visitors from 3 health centre’s covered by the children’s centres.

Children’s Social Care team we talked to both health visitors and CSC for referrals to the courses).

Community dietitians (who had attended drop-in sessions at the children’s centre and spoken to parents regarding weaning and had raised concerns that parents were reluctant to move onto the second stage of weaning because of fears of children choking.

Training provider (we chose an experienced service provider who we had used in the past and received positive feedback about. We worked with the service provider to identify topics that we specifically wanted included (e.g. dealing with choking [see above].

Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

Performance measures
• To raise awareness of health and safety for childminders
• To increase knowledge and confidence of parents in dealing with first aid issues
• To provide information and awareness so that parents might be able to prevent accidents in the home

Evaluation of impact
From February to April 2012 we ran three first aid courses with a total of 41 participants. Of these participants only 5 had undertaken First Aid training prior to taking the course.
Participants were asked to complete a course appraisal form. 

For all three courses the average overall assessment rating was 4.5 out of 5 with the high marks being given for the factors that we consider most important: course content, relevance and standard of instruction. All participants said they have ‘improved knowledge and confidence’ in dealing with first aid issues.

What has emerged from the data is the importance of the quality of instruction. The trainers who delivered the courses were all paramedics with many years experience who were able to illustrate the key points with realistic scenarios. Participants also valued the practical aspects of the course 

Comments included: 
"Everyone should have to take a course like this"
"Great course, it could have been longer"
"The instructor certainly knows his stuff"

Health and Safety for Childcarers (March)
The training covered completing risk assessments, storage of dangerous substances, fire safety and medicine storage. A total of 12 participants attended including a childminder. Feedback was positive – one member of staff from a day nursery said that the training would have an impact on her future practice. It is too early yet to have any evidence of impact although evaluations from parents indicate that they feel more confident in dealing with emergencies and their level of knowledge has increased. 

Future impact: Data from the PCT on numbers of accidents and emergency admissions to hospital (2012-13 figures) may reflect a decrease in the number of 0-4s attending with accidental injuries. The health and safety at home course ran during Child Safety Week (18-25th June 2012). 

Future plans

1. After 3 months (June 2012) contact early settings who attended the health and safety course for further feedback on how attending the course may have impacted on their practice. 
2. After 3 months (June 2012) contact parents for more feedback on their increased confidence and whether they have put the knowledge gained into practice.

Helping others to replicate your practice

Sustaining the practice
It is intended to offer first aid courses on a termly basis and we will liaise closely with health visitors to identify families (session booked for July 2012). It is vital that this training is delivered by professionals with access to equipment for practising resuscitation etc so the cost of courses may have an impact on sustainability. Asking participants for a small donation towards costs may help towards costs. Sharing the cost of sessions between different children’s centres can also support sustainability. 

Costs and benefits
3 First Aid for Babies and Children courses @ £300.00 = £900.00
1 Health and Safety for Childcarers course @ £285.00 = £285.00 
Refreshments @ £5.00 per course = £20.00
50 Children’s First Aid Kits @ £9.00 = £450.00
Total cost = £1655.00

Cost per participant for First Aid course (41 participants) = £22.31 + £9.00 for First Aid kit 
Cost per participant for Health and Safety course = £24.17

Learning from the experience

Key learning points are: 
• Work closely with health visitors and others to identify target families – families whose children have attended Accident and Emergency departments.

• We have also found it helpful for children’s centre staff to attend the sessions with vulnerable families to offer support. 

• Reinforce key messages through displays and leaflets and participation in Child Safety Week. We use Child Accident Prevention Trust leaflets which we have found to be clear and up to date.

• Work closely with childcare settings to support them to provide information and displays for parents. 

• Monitor training provider to ensure high standard of delivery and content. Maintaining good relationships with the training provider means that we can tailor course content to meet our requirements and offer a more focused session. 

There were no challenges/barriers as this training was a key priority for parents and most were keen to participate. A potential barrier, although we did not encounter this was English as an additional language, although around 30% of participants on the first aid courses were from a BME background. I think the clarity of the presentation and the emphasis on demonstrating techniques was helpful. 

This intervention could easily be replicated by other children’s centres if a need has been identified. 

Core leadership behaviours 
Eight core behaviours have been identified as part of successful elements of leadership (see National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services/C4EO (2011). Resourceful leadership: how directors of children’s services improve outcomes for children. Full report. Nottingham: NCSL.

The leadership behaviours that apply to this practice are:

The ability to collaborate – we have a good relationship with our health visitors and community dietitians and their anecdotal information on why such courses were necessary was important. It is also an example of collaboration between three children’s centres operating in adjacent areas. 

Focusing on results – this initiative had a intended end result. By giving parents confidence to deal with emergencies we hope to reduce the number of hospital admissions and increase confidence in all areas of parenting. 

The ability to simplify – this was a simple solution to an area of concern for families living in our area. 

C4EO Golden Threads

Know your communities - this is an area of concern for children’s centre users. Regular consultations with parents always identify first aid to be of major importance. It is important that we respond to the needs of our local community. 

Culture not structure – learning together - our first aid courses were open to any participants and families were supported by centre staff to take part if they felt they needed support. 

Unite to succeed – the right support at the right time – this was an example of a universal service open to all but places on the course were kept for families specifically targeted by the children’s centres. In this way attendance on the courses were seen as positive.

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