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Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospital

This is a Level 2 unit with 27 cots. Since moving to a new building – after spending months in temporary portacabins – the staff here have been able to take advantage of a huge amount of space on this unit to provide some excellent family-centred care initiatives.

Tour guide, Jan Barnes 

Hello and welcome to our neonatal unit. I’m Jan, a sister here, and I’ll be showing you some of the things we are able to do for families who  have a baby on our unit.

Encouraging parents

We encourage parents to become actively involved in their baby’s care. Parents can stay on the unit for ward rounds where they can listen to what doctors have to say and ask questions – it helps them understand what’s happening to their baby. Many parents say they feel powerless when their baby is admitted to neonatal care, so we encourage them to take part in their baby’s care – such as washing them or changing nappies – and we adjust our care settings to make sure these are only done when the parents are around. We promote skin-to-skin care and teach parents to tube feed their baby early on, so they’re providing and delivering milk.

Breastfeeding support
We have a supply of breastpumps that we lend out free of charge so all mums on the unit can express milk for their baby.

A community breastfeeding team attends the parents’ support group to speak to mums who are having difficulty expressing or breastfeeding. They can give them support and advice about all aspects of feeding. We can also pass on contact details of mums who don’t attend the group but might want help with this. The team usually stay in touch with parents when they are at home to ensure they’re receiving continuous feeding support.

Support group 
We run a parents’ support group here twice a month. It’s often a long and lonely day for mums and dads on the unit with their babies, so we thought it would be nice to organise a time when they can come together for a coffee and a chat.

The group is run by Leigh Dumighan and Leanne Day, both mums who’ve had babies on this unit. They can help answer parents’ questions and share their experiences.

Parents’ room 
This is our parents’ room, where parents can spend some time away from the unit whilst only being a minute away from their baby. We provide free tea and coffee and other kitchen facilities so parents can make meals here and use the facilities if they stay overnight in one of our parents’ rooms.

Rooming in
All parents have the opportunity to ‘room in’ with their baby in one of the two rooms we have before leaving the unit. We encourage both parents to stay for a couple of nights before they take their baby home – they have everything they need to look after their baby by themselves, but we’re close by if they get into any difficulties. This really helps boost their confidence.

Children’s play area 
We also have an area especially for siblings to use when visiting. We don’t have a play specialist to supervise it, so we ask that at least one parent is with their child at all times. As long as there are no signs of infection which could be passed on to the babies, children are allowed on to the unit with parents at any time of the day, seven days a week.

Ellie’s Room
This used to be called the quiet room, but we renamed it Ellie’s room after the parents of a little baby who sadly passed away provided the furnishings. We use this as an extra room if we have three sets of parents staying overnight. This is also a room where we impart sensitive information to parents and withdraw treatment as it’s away from everybody else and offers parents some privacy.

We like to celebrate those babies who leave our unit, so every year we hold an annual ‘graduate party’ for all families who have spent time on this unit to come back. Former prems as old as ten usually attend and we ask them to create a handprint canvas like this one as a memento. They also get a chance to throw wet sponges at the consultants!


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