St Peter’s

St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, was the highest scoring neonatal unit to be assessed by the Bliss Baby Charter team in 2019.

We asked Dr Peter Reynolds and Sister Jo Willard on the neonatal team about their experience of pursuing accreditation.

Why did you sign up to the Bliss Baby Charter?

St Peter’s has always strived to give the best care to the babies and their families and as part of that, we had recognised the positive impact of family-centred care, which is a partnership approach to healthcare decision-making between the family and the health professionals.

However, there is always a difference between thinking that we are doing something well and being able to prove that we are through a rigorous externally validated process. The Bliss Baby Charter is in national standards as setting out what a safe, high-quality service with a culture of continuous improvement and development looks like. So it provided precisely the high standards to which we aspired.

Through the accreditation process, we were able to benchmark ourselves against standards set by Bliss, which helped us understand what we were doing well and identify areas where we could improve.

What support from Bliss was most helpful?

The handbook we were given at the start of the process was our bible - it contained everything we needed and explained how each principle would be assessed so we know how we needed to evidence the quality of our care in advance. It meant that we didn’t need to contact Bliss except to review our self-assessments. The bank of examples of how other units have put family-centred care into practice was also very useful.

Since signing up to the Bliss Baby Charter, how has your unit’s approach changed to involving parents in their baby’s care?

One of the biggest changes to come from using the Bliss Baby Charter as an audit tool was the development of a developmental care ward round which aims to empower parents in caring for their child. Parents are encouraged to be present for these rounds, where we demonstrate optimal positioning and discuss skin- skin, ways that parents could be more involved in caring for their baby and reading and talking to their baby.

We also identified a way to bring family-centred care into the acute environment of neonatal stabilisation and resuscitation in the delivery room with the introduction of the “Birthday Cuddle”. This meant informing staff that parents should, in the vast majority of circumstances, be allowed to spend a precious few minutes holding their baby, before they are transferred to the neonatal unit, regardless of gestation or need for ventilation support. This has created an emotionally significant moment of parental involvement right at the start of their baby’s care pathway. The feedback from parents and staff has been overwhelmingly positive.

During the Baby Charter assessment period, we made a whole suite of other changes including:

  • Introducing ‘Lullaby Hour’ where a professional musician performs in the NICU to offset the otherwise stressful sound environment of the unit
  • Adding another room to our parents’ accommodation
  • Reducing parking charges
  • Hiring a family support nurse and a breastfeeding lactation consultant
  • Creating a play area for siblings and providing sibling packs so that they feel involved in what is happening to their new brother or sister.

The reason we were able to make so many improvements was because the Bliss Baby Charter process enabled us to focus clearly on areas where we could make improvements. The Charter provided us with a new lens through which to look at the care we were providing, and the results have been transformative. We know, with confidence, that these improvements will have a direct and long-lasting impact not only on the future of each vulnerable baby, but also on the lives of those who care for them.

We are certain that the quality of our family-centred care has improved as a result of the thorough examination of our processes, and through the confidence we have gained, it will continue to improve in the future.


Are you interested in getting involved with the Baby Charter?

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