Here’s the one thing about life that I’ve learned over the past ten years: for every person you meet, you’ll encounter a different opinion.
Each opinion is born of that individual’s unique history and experiences, the knowledge they have, and the prejudices they harbour. Just as no two people are exactly alike, neither are any two experiences.
Bounty is a prime example.
Earlier this year, the parenting club hit the headlines because some people felt that Bounty was failing new Mums. Bounty reps routinely visit new Mums on maternity wards, distributing ‘Bounty packs’ of samples, along with child benefit forms.
Some blogs I read argued that this was an invasion of privacy; that it was not sufficiently clear that the Bounty reps were commercial representatives, rather than NHS staff or ‘official’ agents. Some parents felt their privacy was invaded, they were pressured to buy products, or there was a lack of sensitivity shown to them by the Bounty reps at a time when they felt tired, vulnerable and emotionally exposed.
Other blogs presented a more positive view of a new Mum’s encounter with Bounty. Some new parents found the product samples welcome, and enjoyed meeting another visitor with their new baby. Many women reported finding the forums on the Bounty website to be very useful and supportive during pregnancy and the early days of pregnancy.
A few weeks ago, I was approached by Bounty who told me they were creating an independent advisory panel that will advise Bounty on its daily, face-to-face interactions with new parents.
The advisory board is being chaired by Dame Karlene Davis DBE, former general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, who will be joined by Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust, Carole Garrick, head of midwifery and associate director of the Western Sussex NHS Trust, and David Barker, former head of partnerships at the Royal College of Midwives.
Those are some fairly impressive experts who I’m confident will give Bounty good, independent advice.
But what’s missing from the board is the voice of parents themselves – and so I am pleased to say I will be joining the Bounty Advisory Board.
What does that mean? Well, over the next year, I’ll attend a series of meetings with my fellow board members and we’ll talk about what Bounty does, what it could do better, and how the company can better meet the needs of parents.
I’m not an ambassador for Bounty. The company is very clear that they’re not expecting me to act as an advocate – they just want to hear the honest views of parents like me (and you).
So that’s what I’ll do.
I’ll be asking all my blog readers and Twitter followers what THEY think about Bounty, and then my role is to go to those meetings and amidst all the medical jargon and NHS policy talk, I’ll be the advocate for people like us.
I am pleased by some of the changes Bounty is introducing to try and drive up standards – new uniforms, the distribution of Sleep Safety leaflets to all new parents, the creation of a midwife-staffed helpline for new parents, and feedback forms for parents so they can immediately tell Bounty if something good (or bad) has happened.
But there’s more work to be done.
I am a big believer that in life, you can’t like everything or everyone. But standing on the sidelines never created real change. That only happens when people start to talk – and listen. And I hope that’s what’s going to happen over the next year. I can’t remove Bounty from maternity wards, but I can try to be a part of the process that makes their presence there a more positive experience for more people. And that process starts here, with my blog readers. Tell me what your experience of Bounty was as a new parent. Given the current system, what could be improved? What changes would you like to see?
[Disclosure: I have requested that my fee for being a part of the Bounty Advisory Board be donated to The Lullaby Trust, in memory of Matilda Mae. I won’t receive any financial payment for taking part in this project. I’m just there to represent parents, and ensure our voices are heard.]
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