Welcome to the fourth A Better Start Southend research bulletin produced by Rachel Wood.

This is your regular update giving you the latest on early years policy, practice and evidence, and how we are using these findings to influence our work in Southend.

If you would like to sign up to receive these updates, or have a question, please email abetterstart@southend.gov.uk.

Evaluating online mentoring and support

Title: Transformation of health visiting services in England using an Online Community of Practice

Research source: www.healthpolicyandtechnology.org/article/S2211-8837(16)00014-9/abstract

Publication date: Online – February 2016

Authors: Ikioda, F. and Kendall, S.

Our summary

Online Communities of Practice (CoP) can be a source of support, information and knowledge-sharing for health visitors delivering the Healthy Child Programme. While there is some evidence to suggest that CoPs can improve ways of translating policy into practice, this research uses realist evaluation to look at what specific aspects of CoPs work, why and for whom.

It found that students regarded online hubs as ideal for receiving mentoring and exploring evidence in practice, and that a virtual environment was ideal for health visitors to collectively pose issues, obtain evidence and resources, and become a coherent professional group.

To find out more about realist evaluation: www.communitymatters.com.au/RE_chapter.pdf

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We are setting up workforce community of practice for A Better Start Southend and will be using these findings to inform the design of the group

Help us help Southend

  • If you have had experience of an online CoP, can you tell us what made it work?

E-mail abetterstart@southend.gov.uk and help us improve lives for Southend’s next generation.

Reading and language interaction

Title: The Impact of book reading in the early years on parent-child language interaction

Research source: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1468798415608907

Publication date: Journal of Early Childhood Literacy 2017, Vol. 17(1) 92–110

Authors: Gilkerson, J. Richards, J.A. and Topping, K.J (2017)

Our summary

Much of the research evidence into early language development seems to show that book reading in the early years is a predictor of later reading. This study questions whether reading to young children also enhances language interaction with their families. The authors argue that language interaction was greater during reading time than non-reading time, and levels of attentive interaction between child and parent during that time was also higher.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We are working with the Fatherhood Institute in running the Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) project
  • We are using the Wellcomm toolkit as a screening method for our early years children to support our aims of prevention and early intervention
  • Our work on ‘Baby, Tiddler and Toddler’ activities support early reading and communications and language

Help us help Southend

  • What other ways do you think that we can support early years children and their families in their language development and reading?

E-mail abetterstart@southend.gov.uk and help us improve lives for Southend’s next generation.

Child development

Title: Flourishing from the start: What is it and how can it be measured?

Research source: https://www.childtrends.org/publications/flourishing-start-can-measured/  

Publication date: March 2017

Authors: Moore, K.A. Bethell, C.D. Murphy, D. Carver Martin, M. Beltz, M

Our summary

This report argues that the focus in the early years should be on promoting positive outcomes rather than the avoidance of negative outcomes in order to make large and lasting gains. But to help children in this way, the authors argue there needs to be an accurate definition of what ‘flourishing’ means, across all developmental domains, measurement and monitoring.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • As part of our processes we look at protective factors that support positive outcomes

Help us help Southend

  • What are the small changes that a workforce can make to shift practice from avoiding negative outcomes to promoting positive ones?

E-mail abetterstart@southend.gov.uk and help us improve lives for Southend’s next generation.

Promoting breastfeeding

Title: What do women really want? Lessons for breastfeeding promotion and education

Research source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27052189

Publication date: April 2016

Authors: Brown. A

Our summary

This study argues that new mothers are an expert resource, and are in an ideal position to inform promotion and education around breastfeeding. It explored the attitudes of 1,130 new mothers of 0-2 year olds, evaluated their experiences and examined how changes might be made to current practice. The authors concluded there was a need for greater emphasis on the wider values of breastfeeding, not just on health. They found mothers felt the need for promotion and education, not just for themselves but also to family members and the local community, and that new ways to approach this were needed.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We co-produce innovative projects promoting breastfeeding and peer support to see if they achieve impact, and find out how they could become ‘business as usual’

Help us help Southend

  • Do you have any innovative ideas that might support infant feeding?

E-mail abetterstart@southend.gov.uk and help us improve lives for Southend’s next generation.

Supporting baby and infant feeding

Title: World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Report 2016

Research source: https://ukbreastfeedingtrends.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/wbti-uk-report-2016-part-1-final.pdf

Publication date: November 2016

Authors: World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative

Our summary

This is the first World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) for the UK. It looked at how key policies from the WHO strategy for feeding infants and young children are implemented, any gaps within that and recommendations for action. The report found an absence of UK-wide standards in a number of areas including implementing the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiatives, information support to parents and protected feeding breaks for working mothers. It also identified an incomplete monitoring and evaluation programme.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • New projects for 2017/18 include parent support and infant feeding peer support
  • We are developing and enhancing our offers for the Healthy Child Programme, Family Nurse Partnership and breastfeeding support services and expanding on an emerging focus on preventative health measures to support all stakeholders in Southend

Help us help Southend

  • How could the trends report be applied in a Southend context?

E-mail abetterstart@southend.gov.uk and help us improve lives for Southend’s next generation.

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