The William Harvey neonatal unit (Ashford in Kent), began their Bliss Baby Charter journey in 2015. They were inspired to get involved with the charter because they recognise the huge benefit that family-centred care has on babies and families, particularly with regards to keeping families together through tailored facilities and financial support.
Some of their key family-centred initiatives include:
- Providing parents with headphones during ward rounds so that they can stay with their baby throughout.
- Using cot side screens to promote privacy on the unit, encouraging parents to stay by the cot side for longer.
- Providing financial support to parents, including discounted parking, and offering meal vouchers.
- As well as maintaining a general quiet environment at all times, the unit also promotes and operates quiet time between 2pm and 4pm each day (with lights dimmed and noise reduced to a minimum) to continue to promote a peaceful atmosphere and support the babies’ development.
Family-centred facilities at William Harvey
Bliss’ ‘Families kept apart: barriers to parents’ involvement in their baby’s hospital care’ (2016) highlights that for premature and sick babies to have the best possible chance of good long- term health outcomes, it is vital that parents are able to be with their baby for long, uninterrupted periods and are supported to take the lead in their care.
William Harvey Hospital recognises this and the neonatal unit staff are working closely with wider hospital teams, parents, volunteers and local community to create new parent accommodation for families.
The newly refurbished parent flats, located just outside the unit, will include kitchen facilities with all the essentials to cook a warm meal, a comfortable lounge area and bedding space for both parents. Easy access to showers and toilets is also available and the extended family are able to visit during the day. Plans are in place to use community support to renovate the garden space.