What would make your heart sing or sink?

I’m Fiona Robertson, one of the practitioners working as part of the co-production team on the One Antenatal project. I’ve been involved with NCT for over 15 years as a volunteer, breastfeeding counsellor, postnatal leader etc. I’m also a BFC supervisor and assessor for BFCs and PNLs. This means I’ve seen a lot of brilliant NCT practice over the years. The other members of the co-production team cover a wide range of practice and we are working really collaboratively with each other and with NCT staff members. The aim of our project is to take the best from Signature and Essentials courses and design a framework and toolkit for a future single antenatal course for NCT.

So, as you know we sent out a survey asking for feedback from any practitioners in which we asked ‘what would make your heart sing?’ and ‘what would make your heart sink?’ as well as allowing space for other comments.

Over 300 practitioners responded to the survey ? Well, that made my heart sing! I was so glad that so many people took the time to contribute, thank you!

The brilliant Racheal Leonard (Research and Service Development Officer in the Knowledge Team) then undertook the task of analysing the results in great detail. She coded every single comment in order to enable us to properly understand people’s priorities. What patience and skill it took to do that with such broad questions. One of the things I have learnt from being part of the team is that we have colleagues in the central staff team who are really super smart and skilled in ways which I am not. The co-production team really relies on this pooling of skills and teamwork and I am finding that very positive. You can read Rachael’s blog about working with me to analyse all your feedback here.

So… what did we hear from you? One overwhelming message is that you all want what we want – to retain your ability to be flexible in how you design and facilitate your courses and nobody wants a detailed manual. We do know we need a greater level of consistency in content and experience for parents – but this doesn’t mean an overly prescriptive course. What we are planning will have some more structure and detail than our existing frameworks and it will come with a set of overarching Aims and Learning Outcomes for the course as a whole. Exactly how each course is delivered will still rely on the skills, knowledge and judgement of individual practitioners. The practitioners who are part of the team have been clear about that since the outset – you may remember Sue Woollet’s blog about the project where she said this.

Another big issue was the cry for resources. Well, I’m with you there too. We’d love lots of shiny stuff. The challenge is now to work out what we might realistically be able to deliver. We have heard you want great resources to use during classes and also to hand out to clients. Hopefully everyone has already got their orders in for the new photo set – if not, find out more here and get in touch with your PSA. The other thing I feel hopeful we can do is to find better ways of sharing the excellent practice which exists among practitioners. People asked for a menu of activities and ways to not need to reinvent the wheel. We’ll work on how to offer that while also making sure that activities are not compulsory. We need to be able to continue to use the skills we have to maintain that all important flexibility while also more effectively sharing our great stuff between us.

My breastfeeding counsellor colleagues offered many comments about the length of time available for breastfeeding sessions, and a very clearly heard point is that ‘two hours is not enough’. We also know that client feedback tells us that dedicated time spent on breastfeeding evaluates better than breastfeeding content that is only ‘weaved in’ through the course. We are working hard to ensure that sufficient time is built in to course plans for breastfeeding. This points towards all courses having sufficient dedicated time spent on breastfeeding, rather than a mixture of separate and weaved content that we have at the moment.

Practitioners are keen to be able to access key evidence points for antenatal course content. This was something raised by lots of you. It’s important and we’ll work on how we can practically do that, for example by making use of all the work that has gone into evidence reviews for the parent content on our website.

We heard lots of worries about how Essentials only practitioners will transition to delivering the new course. These worried Essentials practitioners and others. We know all practitioners are valued and we clearly want to make sure we can keep everyone! We’ll be working out how to transition in a way which feels fair and supportive. We have an Essentials only practitioner on our team too – Lucy Pedder, and there’s no doubt that she’s specifically well placed to make sure your voices are heard about this ?

Overall, there wasn’t anything especially surprising coming up in the survey – more re-enforcement and helpful in understanding the relative priorities around some things. Everything which was raised will be taken into account and almost all of it is already on our agenda. That’s the beauty of the team including eight practitioners. There were a few things that we all know to be ongoing issues, mainly around venues, which are not part of this project and your comments on those will be passed on to the appropriate team. What you’ve said really confirms where we are heading and helps us remain clear on priorities. I’m now worrying that we can’t please all the people all the time – some of these things might be tricky to do. We’re trying our very best and we really appreciate all the support. Thanks all!

2 Replies to “What would make your heart sing or sink?”

  1. It’s so encouraging, Fiona, to hear how collaborative this process is – a time of change is always unsettling for all concerned but it sounds like you are all working hard to make sure every voice is given the chance to be heard. Well done!

    Catherine N.

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