The role can vary quite significantly between networks, depending on the approach to parental involvement adopted by the network. You may be asked to participate in or lead user forums in your local unit, feeding your views up to the board through staff or through other parent representatives.
Alternatively you may be asked to sit on the board as a parent representative. The capacity in which you sit on the board also varies. For example, in some networks you will act as a kind of advisor to the board, giving a parental perspective on their decisions. In other networks, you may be taking the views of parents gathered in user forums, presenting these to the board, and trying to get changes made.
Some networks do not yet have parental representation in any format, although Bliss is working to try and change this. As such, we cannot yet offer this opportunity nationwide. If you are interested, please let us know where you live and we will let you know if it is available in your area.
This will vary from network to network. If you sit on the board, you will have meetings either every two or three months, and these may also rotate between different hospitals in the network. You will also have to read a number of papers and reports in preparation for the board meeting.
Bliss offers training to parent representatives so that you attain the skills necessary to participate at the board meetings. In addition to this, you may have to attend user forums in units or other meetings. Some groups of parent representatives have also undertaken other projects, such as an audit of the facilities in the units in the network, which obviously require an additional time commitment.
Network boards should cover any travel expenses that you incur. This should include petrol, parking, train or bus fares. If you also have to arrange for extra childcare, then talk to the network board about those costs as well. You should not be out of pocket in any way. However the policies for reimbursement of expenses differ between networks, so we cannot guarantee this.
No, there are no qualifications to be a parent representative apart from having a baby who has spent time on a neonatal unit – preferably within the past five years.
No, it is preferable if your baby is no longer on the unit. Bliss does suggest that parents should have had a baby on a neonatal unit within the past five years or are in active and frequent contact with a neonatal unit, such as coordinating a parent support group.
It is also essential that you are not in any ongoing disputes or have any unresolved complaints with a unit in the network.
For an informal chat or more information on being a parent representative in a neonatal network, please contact us at HCP@bliss.org.uk or call 020 7378 1122.
We are currently looking for parent network representatives for the following networks. Click the links below to see what units they cover and find out a bit more about these networks:
If you are interested in any of these roles, or would like to check whether your network is currently recruiting, please contact us at HCP@bliss.org.uk or call 02073784758.