All of the participant types, clients, health professionals and retailers reported very positive views of Best Start Foods (BSFs) in this study. The general consensus was that the BSFs application process was relatively easy and uncomplicated, the use of the BSFs card was mostly straightforward and was viewed as decreasing stigma and the benefit itself had led to more healthy dietary practices and reduced financial burden and concerns within low-income households. As was the case with the Best Start Grant (BSG), BSFs was perceived as having these positive outcomes on low income families at a key time in the early years of their children's lives. The adoption of a card for clients to access BSFs card is also important as not only does it decrease feelings of stigma but also added to the view that BSFs is an entitlement, and not a donation or 'hand-me-down'. The monitoring of funds on the card also increased the clients' budgeting skills, and increased their confidence and feelings of self-worth as parents and carers. Health professionals also reported positive impacts on clients and their families in terms of dietary intake and mental wellbeing.
The views of the clients, health professionals and retailers demonstrate that BSFs is already operating smoothly and successfully across Scotland, is already meeting or beginning to meet its intended aims, and radical revision of the benefit is not required at this stage. However, relatively minor modifications that might be considered in the near future are:
- Further marketing and promotion of BSFs may be advisable in order that all eligible families are aware and apply for the benefit. This promotion should also emphasise the use of the card, including which shops will accept it, as well as the range of foods available as part of BSFs.
- Clarification of the changes to BSFs payments as the child ages may be advisable. In this study, clients only became aware of this when the amount available via their BSFs card changed.
- Aspects of communication for BSFs applicants may need to be reviewed including decision letters, communication when the payments come to an end, and the accessibility of communication for clients with additional needs, including those who do not speak English.
- Reviewing the application process to address the speed of application decisions.
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