What to expect in child caregiving training

Childcare is an important role that any parent or guardian could be tasked with. Tending to a newborn from the moment of birth to toddler level is a journey with a lot of uncertainties, making memories, avoiding accidents, and praying whatever we are doing works.

A light joke I always share is, ‘Childcare is larger percent God, research and lots of guesswork. So long as it’s working, I stick to it.’ Many parents want what’s best for their children that’s why most of them willingly juggle between myths and facts just to give their best. To help curb this gap of uncertainties Equity Afia franchise launching from their Ongata Rongai branch, they launched caregivers training that runs every Saturday.

Equity Afia Ongata Lang’ata offers caregivers training targeting: house managers, new parents, guardians, and teachers. The training aims to:

  • Provide factual information about child care so that the population does not rely heavily on street information or the internet.
  • Provides basic first aid response for emergency situations.
  • Incorporate both literature and practical training for the caregivers

I got a chance to interview a Medical officer in charge of the Equity Afia Ongata Rongai to get a feel of what the whole caregiver’s training was about and why they sought the need to implement it.

  1. Please give us a brief introduction to Dr. Benson Chuma and the Equity Afia franchise.

My name is Dr. Benson Chuma and I am the Medical Officer in Charge of Equity Afia Ongata Rongai, Biashara Street, and Langata medical centers. Equity Afia opened its first medical center in 2015 and to date, the medical franchise has 40 clinics located in 14 counties nationwide and is set to open additional outlets over the year.

We have clinics in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, Kitui, Muranga, Nyeri, Meru, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kisii, Trans Nzoia and Nakuru counties.

The Equity Afia clinics are unique because they are actually run by medics who are alumni of the Equity Leaders Program also known as ELP. ELP is a leadership program composing of top-performing secondary school scholars from all sub-counties including the Wings to Fly alumni beneficiaries and aims at empowering young academically gifted scholars by supporting their access to tertiary education in Kenya and around the globe, as well as equipping them with leadership skills

2. What drove Equity Afia Langata to start this initiative?

In our interaction with our clients, we realised that our community is composed largely of young parents and caregivers and that they do not have credible sources of information on the do’s and don’ts with regards to child safety and first aid.

We realized that although mothers are trained on the danger signs to look out for in pregnancy and how to cope with the symptoms of pregnancy, we still have limited education or information about how to provide life-saving first aid techniques for children in case of accidents at home. In fact, most of the antenatal and post-natal visits are geared towards advising the mothers on illnesses and vaccines and not so much about home safety and first aid.

3. Since you started the training, how receptive has society been?

The reception has been very positive. When we started the program, our intention was to run one training but we ended up getting overbooked. Because of social distancing and for more personalized interaction, we then divided the class into two and offered this over two consecutive Saturdays. Since then we got additional requests to continue running the classes and today, we now offer these once a month.

4. Do you think the training is making an impact on society?

Yes, they are. There has been noticeable behavior change by our clients. A good number of parents who have attended the training have come back to tell us how they have changed things in their houses to improve their children’s safety. Many have actually invested in child proofing their homes to ensure that accidents which can be fatal are avoided. This basically means that parents have invested in making their homes safer for their children by putting in place measures to ensure that they restrict physical access to unsafe areas (such as stairs), electrical access such as blocking sockets, restricting access to large pools of water and medicine among others.

From a childcare perspective, caregivers and parents have also adopted what they have learnt. For example, many parents and caregivers have shared feedback that they no longer leave their babies lying on their stomachs unattended. This is proof that the training is working.

5. From your attendance records, what category comes more for the training? Is it new moms, caregivers, veteran mom’s or others?

Frankly, most attendees are new mothers and parents who invest in training caregivers who often stay at home with the children when they are at work.

However, we are seeing growing participation in new fathers and mothers who have previously had other children as well. The new fathers are taking up the classes to be able to support their spouses and to be actively involved in caring for the babies. Mothers who have more than one child have given feedback that they are taking the classes because the gap between their children is quite big and they feel like they may have forgotten some things while others feel that during their previous babies, they did not have access to the information.

6. On average, what age groups of moms have you been working with for the past 6 months?

We have worked with a mixed set of ages but a majority of the attendees range from mid-twenties to the late thirties.

7. What are the top accidents that parents/caregivers need to look out in infants? How are they treated?

There are two common accidents that involve new born babies and this includes babies suffocating in their cribs and the shaken baby syndrome from shaking infants vigorously.

New born babies often suffocate in their cots due to having unsafe sleeping areas. To enhance their safety, avoid having toys within the cot, have a firm mattress, and ensure that the baby’s feet are at the edge of the cot when sleeping amongst others.

The shaken baby syndrome is a brain injury caused by forcefully shaking an infant or a toddler. This mostly occurs during playtime and parents and caregivers are advised to avoid shaking babies.

8. From your experience, would you say street knowledge overshadows medical advice in caregiving?

I would not say so. However, we have noticed that experienced mothers are better equipped than new mothers. I would ascribe this to them having previous knowledge and experience in taking care of a child and hence having less anxiety and confusion that occasionally affects new parents.

However, we recognise that with the vast adoption of the internet, mothers continue to subscribe to apps or websites such as baby center which provide additional information to expectant mothers and mothers to newborn babies.

9. What advice would you give to parents (new and expecting) concerning infant care?

I would say:

  • Follow your doctor’s advice and be open to ask any questions or share any anxieties you may have with your doctor
  • Attend a formal baby safety and first aid training class. It not only offers you technical knowledge in case of an accident, but the training itself empowers an upcoming parent with confidence and self-belief which is very key to taking care of a newborn.
  • As much as possible, allow your caregiver to attend the classes, as this ensures that proper care is given to your child while you are away

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