The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Southampton’s Princess Anne Hospital today became the first in the UK to gain official Bliss Baby Charter accreditation for its family-centred care for premature and sick babies.
In a ceremony held today on the unit, Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, presented staff with a plaque and certificate marking their achievement, which follows a two year process of audit, action and evaluation involving both health professionals and parents of babies needing neonatal care.
Mum Zuzana Moody, whose son Ethan was born prematurely at 25 weeks, knows only too well the difference that the provision of family-centred care on neonatal intensive care units (NICU) can make. She said: “When your baby is in an incubator, it can leave you feeling cut out of the picture, unsure of what to expect; and there is very little you can do for them, but you are their mum, and that’s a vital relationship which needs to be put at the heart of what doctors and nurses are doing.”
Zuzana is a Parent Volunteer Assessor for the Bliss Family Friendly Accreditation Scheme. She helped assess neonatal care at the Princess Anne Hospital by visiting and talking to families on the neonatal unit about their experiences.
She added: “Parents need to feel that they can get information and support from NICU staff whenever they need it, as they do at the Princess Anne Hospital”.
The Bliss Baby Charter was developed by Bliss to help hospitals caring for premature and sick babies to assess the quality of care they provide and identify areas for improvement. Through accreditation of this process, Bliss can recognise and reward excellence in the care delivered by neonatal units, with a specific focus on the delivery of consistent high quality family-centred care that recognises the vital role of parents in their baby’s hands-on care.
Research has shown that putting families at the heart of their baby’s care is hugely beneficial. For babies, it can lower stress levels, promote better health, shorten hospital stays and reduce hospital readmissions. For parents, it helps promote bonding with their baby, and improves their confidence as a parent. For professionals, it can help improve relations between parents and staff, as well as freeing up nursing time, increasing productivity and boosting staff morale.
“I am delighted to recognise the ongoing dedication of staff on this neonatal unit to putting babies and their families at the heart of everything they do,” said Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss. "Their approach has won them the first-ever Bliss Baby Charter accreditation but, more importantly, is making a vital difference every single day to all the babies they care for, as well as their parents and families. I look forward to seeing other neonatal units around the country follow the example of the Princess Anne Hospital in achieving this mark of excellence."
Lisa Leppard, Family Care Sister on the neonatal unit at the Princess Anne Hospital, which is part of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Bliss Family Friendly Accreditation Scheme has helped the team to focus on the care we give our families, as well as their babies, and to make the necessary improvements to provide the highest standards of family-centred care. We not only work very closely as a multi-professional team within Southampton, but we also work collaboratively with our network of colleagues across the region to share best-practice.
“Here at the neonatal unit, we are passionate about the care our babies and families receive and to be the first unit in the country to receive this award is a real achievement of which we are all immensely proud.”
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