Barnet Starlight Neonatal Unit

Group of mothers sat on the floor with two babies lying down while one baby being bottle fed

The Starlight Neonatal Unit at Barnet Hospital were inspired to get involved with the Bliss Baby Charter as a result of their keen interest in improving developmental care and the parent experience, both on the unit and at home.

Since starting the Bliss Baby Charter, the unit have introduced some excellent family-centred initiatives including:

Supper club

Once a month parents on the unit are invited to attend a buffet dinner in the unit’s education room and listen to a presentation that is delivered by the unit’s Occupational Therapist on a range of topics linked to developmental care.

These topics include helping parents recognise their baby’s cues (to enable them to distinguish when their baby is comfortable or in pain) and supporting parents to bond with their baby. Supper club has proven hugely successful as it enables parents to come together in an informal environment.

It secures peer to peer support and provides opportunities to ask questions and learn more about how the parent can play a lead role in their baby’s care.

Individualised care rooms

Starlight Neonatal Unit is the first unit in the UK to offer individualised care rooms. The unit understands that families can experience trauma through separation from their infant.

Therefore, once the baby is medically stable and the mother has been discharged from postnatal care, the family are invited to stay with their baby, if they wish. Some families are able to stay together from admission to discharge.

Well-being group

This is a weekly group that can be accessed by all parents on the unit. It is run by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Liaison Nurse and the Occupational Therapist and focuses on parental well-being. It offers parents the space to talk through their neonatal experiences together.

Little stars group

This is a five week closed group offered to all parents at discharge. The group is run by the Occupational Therapist and begins with baby massage. It also provides parents with developmental care advice as well as access to various healthcare professionals.


Barnet hospital’s family-centred care initiatives are great examples of how neonatal units can support parents to build their confidence in supporting, caring and getting to know their babies, in line with our Bliss Baby Charter principles.

Parents’ psychological and emotional needs are crucially also considered, with access to various support groups available to parents both on and off the unit.

Emily Hills, Occupational Therapist at Barnet, recognises The Bliss Baby Charter framework and the grant fund that the unit obtained as being hugely important in facilitating the positive changes on the unit.

Emily said: “The Bliss Baby Charter has helped us focus on the needs of each family and the importance of consistent neuroprotective care for all the babies on our unit.

The grant has helped us provide more comfortable facilities for all parents on Starlight NICU, a soft reclining chair is now positioned next to each cot. The chairs aim to provide a welcoming space for parents to hold and care for their babies.”