NHS Baby LifeCheck Media Briefing
The NHS Baby LifeCheck is an online assessment service for parents and carers of babies aged 5-8 months. It covers nine topics which parents and carers may have questions or concerns about.
The topics covered by an NHS Baby LifeCheck are:
talking and playing
being a parent.
NHS Baby LifeCheck was launched nationally on 10th August 2009 following rigorous research and testing.
NHS Baby LifeCheck is for parents and carers of 5-8 month old babies. It’s aim is to help reduce health inequalities and as such is specifically designed to meet the needs of more socially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
It has also been designed to support health and social care professionals in their work as well as be a useful tool for other frontline workers such as social care professionals, Sure start centres, Health visitors, Midwives, GPs, doctors and nurses.
Key messages and facts
is a free, easy to use online service which can help parents and carers of babies aged 5-8 months answer important questions about their baby’s development, helping to keep their baby healthy, happy and safe
is reassuring and will tell parents and carers what they are doing well and how to get more help if they need it
can help parents and carers make the best decisions for their baby and support them with things like feeding, sleep-routines, their baby’s development and being a parent
suggests things they might like to think about doing to help ensure their baby is healthy, happy and safe during the five to eight month period, a key period in a baby’s development, when lots of “firsts” happen – like weaning and first teeth.
NHS Baby Life Check takes a strengths based approach and seeks to empower parents and encourage them to make them to make decisions that have a positive impact on their children’s health and well-being
NHS Baby LifeCheck reinforces the key messages relevant to this age group and it can be used to open up discussions with parents around particular subject areas such as feeding and nutrition
NHS Baby LifeCheck has been developed as part of the Healthy Child Program, and provides a preventative, tailored service to families. It aims to support parents and carers of young children at a time when there are fewer scheduled contacts with healthcare professionals and yet it is a busy time developmentally. It should be seen as part of a process rather than as a one off intervention
NHS Baby LifeCheck provides a means of ‘reaching out’ to parents and carers who might not otherwise access health services, thereby helping to address health inequalities
NHS Baby LifeCheck signposts parents and carers to wider local and national services
NHS Baby LifeCheck offers a means of engaging with fathers and involving them with their babies development.
In the first month following launch over 36,000 people have visited the site.
NHS Baby LifeCheck Media FAQs
About NHS Baby LifeCheck
Q. What is the website address?
It can also be accessed at www.nhs.uk/lifecheck
Q. NHS LifeCheck was announced in 2006, why has the launch been delayed until now?
Following the White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say commitment to develop an “early years” version of NHS LifeCheck, there was an initial development phase when the Department of Health consulted with healthcare professionals and policy experts, as well as the target audience, to determine the issues and the topic areas that would need to be covered by the service.
This version of NHS Baby LifeCheck, known as NHS Early Years LifeCheck, was extensively piloted in 2008. Following feedback from an independent evaluation of the pilots, the online service was redesigned and improved to take account of the recommendations.
The next stage in the roll out was to work with 83 Community For Health spearhead areas as early adopters of the service. Many of these local areas have since held their own local launches and developed their own promotional and implementation strategies – targeting the most vulnerable families whom the service is designed to reach.
More recent evaluation and feedback on the NHS Baby LifeCheck tool revealed new learnings and suggested improvements. It is these recommendations that have shaped the new enhanced version, NHS Baby LifeCheck, which has now been launched nationally.
All three NHS LifeChecks have been rigorously researched, tested, piloted and rebuilt to ensure robustness prior to launch.
Q. Why has the name been changed from NHS Early Years LifeCheck to NHS Baby LifeCheck?
The ministerial decision has been taken following research done with target audience groups. New mums, dads and carers felt the term ‘Early Years’ applied to pre-school children rather than babies. They also felt it was a formal term professionals would use rather than a term they would use to describe their own child. This feedback was echoed by stakeholders who also felt ‘early years’ could be misleading in terms of age. Several names were researched but Baby LifeCheck was seen to be the most memorable name – essential for users to be able to find and use the website itself.
Q: What was wrong with the old site? What are the new features?
Feedback on the original NHS Early Years LifeCheck site was very positive but the site itself was not very flexible in its usage. It was also seen to be less appealing to fathers.
The new site offers features including: a male or female route through the site, using different words, images and colour palettes; helpful topic-related videos; an extended safety section with new questions and feedback; more comprehensive goal-setting options and better links.
Q. Is NHS Baby LifeCheck ‘just another Government campaign’?
No. NHS Baby LifeCheck is an online service which provides information, advice and support to parents and carers. It carries the messages of many other individual campaigns. It is free for everyone to use and meets the public’s demand for more information in order to better-manage their own choices and to help them keep their babies health, happy and safe.
Q. Is NHS Baby LifeCheck the same as ‘Start 4 Life’?
No. NHS Baby LifeCheck is an online service which allows people to assess their baby’s lifestyle and set personal goals to improve their health and wellbeing outcomes. Start4Life focuses primarily on healthy eating and physical activity with a set of core messages, targeting families with babies ages 0 to 12 months old. Healthy eating and physical activity are only small parts of NHS Baby LifeCheck.
NHS Baby LifeCheck covers the following areas:
Talking and playing
Keeping your baby safe
Feeding and health teeth
Being a parent.
Q. Why are you targeting five to eight month old babies specifically?
It is recognised that for most babies, the time between the ages of five to eight months is one of rapid development and change. At this age most babies cut their first tooth, move around and begin to make sounds. It also coincides with the period when there are fewer scheduled contacts with health care professionals. NHS Baby LifeCheck aims to support parents at this time and give them the information they need to make the best choices for their baby.
Q. What is the need for NHS Baby LifeCheck?
In the public consultation “Your Health, Your Care, Your Say” people clearly expressed an interest in taking more responsibility for their health and wellbeing. Three quarters of participants identified regular health checks as a top priority to help them do this.
The NHS Baby LifeCheck quiz is a user-friendly way of providing advice on a whole range of topics. Parents can access it at a time to suit themselves.
Q. How does NHS Baby LifeCheck tackle health inequalities?
Each NHS LifeCheck has been carefully designed to meet the needs of more socially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. Health and social care professionals have the opportunity to use it in their work engaging with parents of five to eight month old babies who are most vulnerable to poor health outcomes. NHS Baby LifeCheck empowers parents and carers by providing the information they want in order to make decision which could improve the long-term health and wellbeing of their baby.
Q. Isn’t this just another example of the nanny state?
No. NHS LifeCheck informs, empowers and supports people in leading making choices for themselves. Each NHS LifeCheck covers a range of topics and users can choose if and what they would like support and advice on. It improves the ‘healthy literacy’ of individuals who may have previously felt excluded and empowers users to make choices and direct their own health outcomes.
Q. Are you collecting data on parents and/or their babies? If so, why and what will it be used for?
No. No identifiable data is asked about parents or their babies at all. No home address or email is required. No personal identifiable data is being saved. Some top-line statistics may be gathered which could give PCTs or Local Authorities information on how they can best commission health and well-being resources. There is clear privacy and data collection protocol for each of the NHS LifeChecks that has been approved by the DH Information Services branch.
Q. How can you ensure data protection for parents using NHS Baby LifeCheck?
No identifiable data is asked of parents at all. There is no ‘save and return’ function on the website, so personally identifiable answers or information cannot be stored.
Q. How does NHS Baby LifeCheck fit in with the wider child health strategy launched in February 2009?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is part of the Healthy Child Programme. The Healthy Child Programme aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children in England from the start of their life to age five by offering proven maternity services and staged health reviews (with extra, targeted services for the vulnerable and those with additional health needs) to every child and their family. By engaging with these services and reviews, families can make sure their child is in the best possible health by the time they are five and enjoy better health and life chances as they grow through adolescence into adulthood.
Q. How can NHS Baby LifeCheck achieve anything when the information is so top line?
Parents and carers have an entitlement to information about health, lifestyle choice and associated risk. NHS Baby LifeCheck is a place for people to find out what they want to know about a range of topics. NHS LifeCheck is the first tool created by the Department of Health. It will be continuously developed and improved.
Q. What has been the reaction from front-line practitioners? Isn’t it just more work for them?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is designed to support the messages front-line practitioners are delivering to parents every day. It provides a more interactive and empowering way of working with parents. It can help them to do their jobs and achieve their existing aims. Evidence suggests that NHS Baby LifeCheck provides a useful opening and springboard for discussions, helping front-line practitioners in their roles.
Q. Is NHS Baby LifeCheck limited to only those who have Internet access?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is free on any computer with internet access. Research indicates a very high proportion of the target audience are young regular internet users. The NHS LifeCheck team is also working with local authorities to ensure that parents who are not online at home can do a NHS Baby LifeCheck at their local Sure Start centre or library.
Q. Are those you are trying to target the ones who are least likely to have Internet access?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is free on any computer with internet access. Research indicates a very high proportion of the target audience are young regular internet users. The NHS LifeCheck team is also working with local authorities to ensure that parents who are not online at home can do an NHS Baby LifeCheck at their local Sure Start centre or library
Q. Does NHS Baby LifeCheck take into account different languages and disabilities?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is only available in English. No language variants are available. To aid understanding, the language used on the site is simple and clear. Videos are also available for each topic. Users with very low levels of English literacy may need assistance in completing a NHS Baby LifeCheck.
Q. Where do you envisage parents are going to be able to complete this?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is designed for parents to access in any setting in which they feel comfortable. As a free, confidential online service it is available on any computer that has internet access. Most users will probably access NHS Baby LifeCheck at home but others may use a library, clinic or Sure Start centre.
Q. Why do you think that NHS Baby LifeCheck will work?
In developing NHS Baby LifeCheck much research has been done, both into the concept of the service and the development of the tools, including the topics covered. There appears to be a great appetite for information and advice. Parents and carers are particularly reassured by the NHS brand and the fact that the information all comes from experts.
As part of the development of NHS Baby LifeCheck an extensive evaluation programme is being undertaken which will provide more information about the benefits achieved following the national launch of the site.
Q. What are the short and long term aims of NHS Baby LifeCheck?
NHS LifeCheck, with its emphasis on empowerment, choice and access, has a crucial role to play in helping the NHS and the Government to achieve their overall objectives for health and social care reform, which are:
developing services that are truly responsive to people’s needs;
preventing ill-health by promoting healthier lifestyles; and
reducing health inequalities.
NHS Baby LifeCheck is designed to provide parents of babies aged between five and eight months with access to credible, trustworthy information to enable them to make decisions about their baby’s health and wellbeing and to effectively tackle health inequalities.
It is recognised that for most babies, the time between the ages of five to eight months is one of rapid development and change. At this age most babies begin to teethe, move around and begin to make sounds. Decisions made by parents and carers at this time have the potential to make a significant difference to a child’s future health outcomes.
In terms of short-term objectives, we are looking to increase awareness and engagement of the service, aiming to get 1,000 parents a month to visit NHS Baby LifeCheck by the end of this calendar year, with a 50% completion rate of the online questionnaire.
Q. How can NHS Baby LifeCheck improve babies’ health?
Although NHS Baby LifeCheck quiz does not ask about medical issues, (apart from immunisation) there is evidence to show that making certain lifestyle choices for a baby can improve their long-term health and wellbeing. These include choosing a wide variety of healthy foods when weaning; looking after a baby’s teeth; being active with a baby and communicating with a baby from an early age.
Practical measures such as ensuring bath temperature is not too hot, fitting a baby car seat correctly, removing small objects such as coins out of reach and fitting a smoke alarm can prevent accidents and even death. NHS Baby LifeCheck gives users feedback on what things they are doing well and which things they need to think about, whilst also pointing out the potential risks in a supportive way.
Q. Will NHS Baby LifeCheck offer parents the latest advice on Swine Flu?
No. It offers no clinical advice and does not have a symptom checker. Anyone whose baby is ill should call NHS Direct or their GP. We have, however, included an information link, directing parents and carers who are concerned about Swine Flu to the appropriate NHS information website.
Q. Why doesn’t NHS Baby LifeCheck mention differences in development of disabled or premature babies?
NHS Baby LifeCheck does acknowledge that all babies are individual and they all develop in different ways and do things at different times. It emphasises that the age when a baby might begin to make sounds or sit up is for most babies not all babies. The majority of advice given on the site is appropriate to all – e.g. cleaning your baby’s teeth or communicating with your baby. But a loving parent or carer knows their baby better than anyone. NHS Baby LifeCheck aims to support each parent and carer by providing the information and advice needed to make the best decision for each individual child.
Q. How does NHS Baby LifeCheck work?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is a holistic health and wellbeing self-assessment tool to provide information and support to parents in the areas that they feel are relevant to them and their babies.
Each section guides parents through a set of questions about the health and lifestyle choices they make for their baby and then offers confidential results and advice. Users can watch helpful videos, select top tips, set personal goals and follow links for local support or more information.
NHS Baby LifeCheck has sections on: development, talking and playing, feeding, healthy teeth, safety, sleep routine, immunisations and being a parent.
Q. How long will NHS Baby LifeCheck run for?
NHS Baby LifeCheck is an online health and wellbeing service that is accessed from the NHS Choices website and as such once developed it will be continually available for use.
Q. Could NHS Baby LifeCheck prevent incidents like the death of baby P?
A.NHS Baby LifeCheck is a website which parents and carers can use to find out the best advice on these topics: development, talking and playing, safety, feeding and healthy teeth, sleep routine, immunisation and being a parent.
The safety section offers practical advice and does not cover individual child protection issues. Vulnerable babies and families will usually have contact with frontline health and social workers.
But NHS Baby LifeCheck does signpost parents and carers to support organisations if they indicate that they are struggling to cope with being a new parent. Parents who choose not to seek personal support can get top tips on coping with various issues and watch videos in which other parents give advice and words of comfort.
Q. Isn’t NHS Baby LifeCheck just a poor substitute for seeing a health visitor?
No. NHS Baby LifeCheck is available 24 hours a day, giving information and support on demand. It is designed to reach out to parents who might not otherwise access health services as well as those looking for advice on specific things. In targeting parents and carers of 5-8 month-old babies, NHS Baby LifeCheck aims to add value to the support already being provided by a range of child and family services, and have most impact on future health outcomes. Research shows that the target audience – the majority of whom are young first-time parents – respond well to parenting messages being delivered in this way.