Can we talk money?

I have run the sling library for almost 10 years. We will celebrate our 10th birthday on 11th July. Over those 10 years, I have helped hundreds of families both in person and online, for free and in paid appointments. There are opportunities for both types of support, but fundamentally consultations appointments cost. I want to explain why.

Since we founded in July 2011, we have only raised on prices from £7-10 for 4 weeks hire, and my consultancy fees have never changed as I have wanted to keep the sling library accessible to as many families as possible. Sling hire (excluding postage costs) around 33p a day and I will keep it as low as possible for as long as possible. While we were building the sling library, it was entirely self-funded, we have never received any funding and this will be the case for majority of sling libraries. It is surprising, but we are not funded like breastfeeding support etc. Some libraries are lucky to have received charity funding but this is not the case for everyone. Yet, there are regularly people who ask why they have to pay to see a carrying consultant.

There is a limit on what support I can give in a library setting or free via online support groups, and this is where a consultation is more preferable option. A consultation is your chance for a personalised service. I would never imagine or expect my chiropractor, physiotherapist, hairdresser, podiatrist or beautician to provide a free service (if lockdowns have taught us anything it is the value of these services), yet it is a common experience amongst carrying consultants. There are many reasons for this. I feel these primarily come from the relative newness of our industry and that traditionally carrying was a skill passed from generation to generation.

Why does it cost?

  • Training with 3 different carrying schools since 2012
  • Annual liability insurance to keep you and me safe
  • Professional body memberships (BABI and now ACESL)
  • Travel costs associated with attending CPD
  • Buying slings to stay up to date with the market and to allow you the a wide selection
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Personalised service dedicated to your needs
  • 30-90 minute private appointment in a dedicated consultation space
  • Pre and post consultation support via email/Facebook etc
  • Making of support materials
  • The knowledge I have amassed, the ability to spot small tweaks that will improve comfort and fit
  • In current climate, risk assessments and enhanced Covid secure measures (extra cleaning, masks etc)
  • Charging for consultants allows me to also then offer free appointments to those in need, and the ability to offer free support online

NESL is here to help you make informed decisions based on our knowledge and skills, and current research and best practice, if you feel you need more support. We will continue to improve our skills through training, Continuous Professional Development and practise, but ultimately that means there will be a cost.

That’s why I and carrying consultants around the country charge.

Meet our new consultants

Two weeks ago, I wrote to say how I had revisited two days of the Slingababy consultancy training and how it had completely ‘blown my mind’. Of the 6 women completing the course for the first time, 2 were peer supporters with NESL. Madeleine and Suzie had both completed the Born to Carry Peer Support course with me but wanted to develop their skills, both for their own professional development and the benefit of NESL. Many users of the library will have met one or both of these two wonderful women. They are dedicated to the library and firm friends. So this post is about them and gives you the opportunity to learn a little more about them. They are both insured to offer consultations as well as supporting at the sling library.

Continue reading

Mind blown – a weekend of revision and new learning.

Several of the team here at NESL HQ have today figuratively had our minds blown. Since Friday, Suzie and Madeleine (along with 4 other ladies) have been completing their Slingababy Consultancy training (more details of that to come direct from them in next few days). For them this meant a trip to Birtley and the Thought Foundation Building, rather than a road trip to Rugby. The 4 days of this course when I completed it in 2014 completely changed how I function and work as a consultant, I hope they are having similar revelations. From the expressions I have witnessed from both, I think it is safe they have!

One of the reasons I am such a strong advocate for training with Slingababy is that once you have completed the course you can reattend as many times as you wish. With a course arranged just 20 minutes from my home, it meant I had the opportunity to reattend for the first time. Due to work commitments, this means I have been only able to attend days 2 and 3 but those two days have been amazing. Despite already completing this course, I cannot believe how much I taken onboard over the past two days. My brain is in overdrive as it processes the information it’s received and makes connections between my past learning and experience, and what I have learned this weekend.

Here is just a sneak peak at what we have been up to. As of Tuesday, Madeleine and Suzie will both be available for 1:1 appointments and they have some plans up their sleeves too.

5 Reasons to have a private consultation

As a sling librarian and carrying consultant I see families in group situations, as well as privately in 1:1 appointments. The arrival of 2017 marks my fifth year as a practising and active carrying consultant. I am extremely lucky to have worked with many families since I first trained in 2012. In total, I have trained with 3 schools and continue to attend a variety of CPD events. This blog considers the reasons to consider booking a 1:1 appointment.

Here are my Top 5 reasons why I believe you should pay to have a private consultation with a trained babywearing consultant.

1) Time

25788202-faad-4bc9-9703-0354672dea99-1028-000001126b76296b_tmpSomething we all wish we had more of is time. During a sling library session, I can see anywhere upwards of 10 families in just over an hour, with typically 15-20 families, each with their own individual needs to meet. A private consultation appointment is a minimum 60 minutes long (with a standard consult lasting for 90 minutes), so we can take a more relaxed approach, tackling your family’s requirements personally, keeping you and your baby at the heart of the appointment. During this we can explore options together, you can have a drink, your baby can be fed or changed or we can even go for a walk together to check the carrier is right for you and your baby. Extra time is especially important if either you or baby have additional needs which need to be considered.

2) Choice

Typically, I can only spend 10 minutes per family in a library setting. This means I can usually only demo and fit one carrier and limits how many times you can try to put a carrier on. We cover the basics of what the carrier does and how to wear it safely but there is not time to discuss every individual element of the carrier or the different ways it can be worn. During a consultation, we can look at different styles and types before trying those which best fit your needs. As consultations are normally held in my office I have access to all carriers we have rather than just those I can fit in the boot of my car. For home visit appointments, the pre-consult questionnaire allows me to make professional judgements to bring what is suitable. I am often asked how I know which carrier to choose for a family but after fitting carriers for almost 6 years you start to instinctively know what will work.

3) Sling hire is includedimg_0004

Sling hire alone is £5 for 2 weeks. As part of a babywearing consultation you will always get a minimum of two weeks hire but due to the fact I link return of slings to library drop in sessions families often benefit for 1,2 even 3 weeks’ free sling hire. I want the sling to work for you and your baby, by able to take it home for an extended period of time you are able to see if it is right for you, without having the feel like you are being rushed to make a choice.

4) It is just you

Consultations are private appointments. It’s just you and me. You are always welcome to bring your partner or a relative along too (there are toys for baby and older children as well). If you have a sling and just want to learn how to use it or use if more effectively then bring it along. We will work together to make it work for you. If you have previously bought a carrier for an older child, but now need a newborn insert to use it with a small baby; if it is one we stock, you can take it home as part of your hire package. Each appointment is tailored to what you want and need: one size does not fit all. A babywearing consultation allows us to think outside the box to find solution for you.

sarah-beech-photography-1

With thanks to Steph Oliver-Beech Photography and Sheffield Sling Surgery and Library for use of photo

 

5) Support doesn’t stop

At the end of the appointment, you receive my contact details in the event you need to ask any more questions. Ongoing support is available via phone, email, FaceTime or Skype for as long as you have your carrier on loan. Our booking system allows me to make a record of all the slings tried during the appointment, allowing me to quickly find you an alternative sling if you want to swap or try another for longer. You are also welcome to swap your carrier at any point during the hire period; simply just pop into one of our drop-in sessions. Follow up consultations can also be booked at reduced rates if you would continue to prefer 1:1 support.

21fbb894-9a2f-4196-a482-2b931858adb8-1028-000001137a488327_tmp

You can book a private appointment via our booking site. A standard consultation is £30 for 90 minutes and it’s just £20 for a sling clinic appointment to troubleshoot your own sling.

I know a carrying consultation will not be something everyone thinks they need or can afford. For families in receipt of means tested benefits or in the event of PND, disability, premature birth (or life limiting conditions for baby etc.) please talk to me. I will always do what I can to help, from reduced fees to free hire. But, if you don’t tell me, I don’t know and cannot help.