Baby blues

Caroline Davis, Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

Having had very little experience of babies before my daughter was born, the first night with her on a hospital ward left me with a feeling of helplessness – mainly because all the other babies were sleeping soundly and mine was the only one to cry! Thankfully, since that first experience I managed to keep going and, along with her sister, my daughter has thrived, so I can’t have done such a bad job on the old parenting front.

This early memory was brought to the fore when I recently attended a workshop that looked at the sharing of new birth data.

To set this in context, as part of the 2013 report, Information Sharing in the Foundation Years it was acknowledged that, by agencies not sharing information, parents of new-born children were potentially missing out on services available to them within children’s centres. This issue particularly applied to the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups of parents, as illustrated in the report:  “A six month-old child of a depressed mother in a failing relationship, where the local children’s centre did not know of her existence and so was unable to provide support.”(pg3)

HSCIC has been leading on work for health services to share new birth notifications with local authorities and other stakeholders, and the workshop last week offered a further opportunity to draw on the experiences of using locally provided data to write an options paper for ministerial approval. This approach would enable all local authorities to have access to new birth notifications for the purpose of sharing it with their children’s centres – however, it would also only be the first stage of a longer process.

After illustrating the experiences we have uncovered in local places, of how complex relationships between different organisations can be a hurdle to establishing local information sharing arrangements, there were a number of nods of understanding across the room.

In light of this, a particular statement in the report rang true for the insights we have learnt:

“Local information sharing agreements or protocols for information sharing may be appropriate to address bulk or pre-planned information sharing …They take a long time to put in place.  However, they …do not contribute to building the necessary practitioner skills and confidence on their own.” (pg25)

However, before practitioners have access to this data to build their confidence, there will need to be a level of negotiation and understanding between organisations as to the purposes of the data and how this information will be used. The journey won’t be quick but the experiences shared at this workshop will help form a solid case for getting it on the road.

To help those parents who are not as fortunate as me in getting the baby blues, like the delegates at the workshop, you can share your experience with us of how agencies shared information to support your journey through the early days of parenthood, or how you developed relationships as a practitioner or within an organisation.

Contact us at info@informationsharing.org.uk or join the conversation using #infosharing