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NHS Tayside Launch Programme To Support Parents And Carers

NHS Tayside has become the first health board in Scotland to launch the ICON programme.

The ICON programme has been introduced with the aim of helping parents and carers of infants learn how to cope with the stress associated with a crying baby. The programme has been introduced by NHS Tayside’s Child Protection Service in collaboration with other NHS services such as the Women, Children and Families Division as well as GPs.

The Lead Nurse for NHS Tayside’s ICON Implementation Group, Jayne Smith, said: “The ICON programme is now launched and has been rolled out across Tayside through various healthcare teams, including midwifery teams, family nurses, health visitors and GPs.

“ICON recognises that babies crying can be very stressful for those looking after them and we want to do as much as we can to reduce this stress. NHS Tayside hopes that by sharing these vitally important messages and coping techniques with parents and carers, we are working towards reducing the risk of harm to babies and protecting them from AHT which is completely preventable.

 “I would urge anyone who is struggling to cope and needs help, please don’t continue to struggle. Help is available from your midwife, health visitor, family nurse or GP.”

The name ICON is an acronym made up of the brief interventions that the programme reinforces, the acronym stands for:

I – Infant crying is normal and it will stop

C – Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop

O – It is okay to walk away for a few minutes if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you

N – Never ever shake or hurt a baby

The ICON programme consists of five points of contact between the baby’s birth and the baby reaching six to eight weeks old. The ICON message will be reinforced through the use of ICON resources at each point of contact and will be delivered by health professionals such as a midwife, community midwife, Family Nurse, Health Visitor or your local GP.

Research has shown that parents and carers can lose their temper, due to the stress of their baby crying, and end up shaking the infant in order to get them to stop. Shaking a new-born can result in devastating and life-altering consequences for the baby. Shaking a baby can result in Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) commonly known as ‘shaken baby’ which can cause brain injuries and lead to long-term health problems, learning disabilities and in some cases death.

The ICON programme has been shown to help parents and carers to understand how to deal with their new-borns crying.

Icon Parent Ambassador, Laura, is supporting the launch of the programme in Tayside. Laura’s baby survived AHT and as a parent ambassador she said she wants to highlight how important the programme is and the support and information it provides.

Laura said: “I would like to thank everyone involved in setting up the ICON programme in NHS Tayside. I hope that having this amazing proactive programme available to everyone will help prevent at least one baby from being shaken or at the very least, help families feel supported and know there are so many calm approaches you can take to calm your baby safely. 

“My son is the reason I feel so passionate about this and for him, I will continue to shout about ICON every single day, in the hope that it helps at least one baby and their family.”

Further information for parents, carers, health professionals, and those wishing to support the launch of the programme can be found by visiting: https://www.nhstayside.scot.nhs.uk/Search/index.htm?searchterm=ICON&search-btn=search

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