Special support for parents who have experienced a sudden and unexpected death of a baby

Oxford Health’s health visitors offer Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme that supports families before and after the birth of their new baby.

Special support for parents who have experienced a sudden and unexpected death of a baby

World Patient Safety Day, September 17 is an initiative by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness of the need to continuously improve patient safety. For World Patient Safety Day 2021, WHO is focusing on safe maternal and newborn care.World Patient Safety Day logo

In Oxfordshire, Oxford Health’s health visitors advise and support the health and wellbeing of babies, children aged 0-5 years and their families. They are qualified nurses or midwives with a specialist community public health qualification, and trained in child health & development and protecting children.

To mark World Patient Safety Day the Health Visiting Service is raising awareness of a programme that supports some of the most vulnerable parents: those who have experienced a sudden and unexpected death of a baby and are expecting a new baby. The Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme supports families before and after the birth of their new baby.

Health visitor Helen Carter is a team leader for the health visiting teams in Carterton, Chipping Norton and Witney, and the trust lead for the CONI programme. She will be promoting the CONI programme and Safer Sleep assessment at the appointment only Healthy Child Clinic, starting today (September 13) at Carterton.

Helen explains:

“We have reviewed the CONI pathway and are offering the programme not only to the parents who have sadly experienced a sudden or unexpected death of a baby (SIDS) but also to their close relatives.  These families would be offered the same programme when they are expecting a baby.”

Through CONI, parents may:

  • receive regular home visits from their health visitor, so they can talk freely about any worries and seek advice
  • borrow movement monitors which pick up movements as the baby breathes, and will ring an alarm if movements stop for longer than 20 seconds
  • be informed where to receive training on basic life support so parents will know what to do if their baby stops breathing
  • keep a symptom diary to record their baby’s health, which they can then discuss with their health visitor
  • use the Baby Check booklet or App to help to decide when to get medical help for their baby
  • monitor their baby’s growth with a detailed weight chart to detect changes that may mean baby should be checked by a doctor
  • receive a room thermometer and guidance on bedding and clothing
  • receive a ‘passport’ so that if the parents are worried that their baby is unwell, they can be seen quickly by the right person.

Health visitors are also promoting the Lullaby Trust’s Baby Check app which can provide reassurance for parents.

“We promote it with all our families, but in particular it was designed for parents who may be more anxious.  It consists of a checklist where you tick yes or no to a list of symptoms and at the end it provides a triage score. For example: if the score is low, it might advise to stay at home, monitor and observe. If the score is higher, it might advise to contact the GP or out of hours, who will then escalate accordingly,” Helen says.

Support for you

If this article has affected you in any way and you would like to know more about the CONI programme or safer sleep advice, you can speak with your Health Visitor or your local health visiting team. Find your local Health Visiting team here

Information on the CONI programme

Safer Sleep advice


How do you rate this page?

Thank you for your feedback

Follow us on social media to stay up to date

We are sorry you did not find this page helpful

Tell us how we can improve this page

Published: 13 September 2021