Principle 5

Parents sitting on a bed in hospital with cot beside them and with their toddler on dad's lap

Unit information and support


Parents are informed, guided and supported, so that they understand their baby’s care processes and become confident in caring for them.

Parents should have access to information about clinical conditions, tests and treatment, infant development, as well as practical issues such as breastfeeding, financial support, transferring between units, local facilities and support services. Information needs to be available in different formats, different media and different languages (according to local population).

This principle considers how a unit ensures that parents receive inclusive information, both written and verbal, throughout their baby's stay on the unit. Information should be provided about all aspects of their baby's care, to empower parents to make informed decisions, and should also include details about local services and support that are available to them.

The principle also focuses on the facilities that are made available to parents and siblings to support their stay on the unit (e.g. kitchen facilities, overnight accommodation etc.)

Here are some examples of good practice:

Tell us tags (standard 5.6A)

Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital

SNUG, the local charity connected with the neonatal unit, created a great communication resource for parents entitled "Tell Us Tags". The Tags encourage parents to update unit staff about when they will be on the unit to deliver cares for their baby and questions they might have, as well as support they might need from unit staff. The resource also provides the space for staff to leave a message for parents.

Tag 1
Tag 2

Neonatal infographic (standard 5.1)

South West Neonatal Network

The South West Neonatal Network listened to parents when they said they wanted more information during pregnancy about what might happen if their baby was born sick or premature. They have created this Neonatal Care Infographic which has been sent to all South West maternity units and included in maternity packs.

Welcome pack (standard 5.1)

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich

Norfolk and Norwich's welcome pack for families provides parents with information about the hospital, unit facilities and additional support available on the unit and from local charities, hospices and the chaplaincy team. It also offers a place for parents to write down their thoughts and memories of the experience, and for staff to note down when parent-craft training has been undertaken, ensuring that parents are given the tools they need to take care of their baby.

St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey

Parents at St Peter’s hospital have created a welcome box for parents who are at most need or admitted in emergency. The box includes essential toiletries for mum, pre-term nappies, note pad as well as a welcome plaque and a small blanket to help families settle in. All of these items are donated by a local church.

Parent information and support app (standard 5.1)

South West Midlands Maternity and Newborn Network

The South West Midlands Maternity and Newborn Network created an app, designed in coordination with parents and the Bliss Family-Centred Care Nurse, to provide information on all of the network's hospitals, with the aim of supporting parents when they first arrive and if they are transferred.

It includes directions to the hospital, where the neonatal unit is situated and visiting policies, as well as links for parent support information and feedback pages for all the hospitals.

Parent information booklet (standard 5.1)

Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey

Frimley Park’s parent information booklet provides a helpful overview of neonatal care and the support parents can expect while they are on the unit. It includes information about the neonatal and community teams to help parents get familiarised with the professionals involved in their baby’s care.

The booklet highlights how parents can be involved with day to day cares such as feeding, nappy changes, bathing. Information on developmental care is also provided including promoting positive touch and skin-to-skin. There is a section on emotional support parents can access whilst they are on the unit and the contact information of useful organisations.

Frimley Park have also created several small information prompt cards for parents as an added reminder of some of the useful resources, facilities and information parents can access.

View the information prompt cards.

Sibling booklet (standard 5.2F)

Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading

Royal Berkshire Hospital have created a booklet for parents to share with siblings (preview). This booklet talks about the reasons why brothers and sisters may spend time on a neonatal unit and what care they will receive from doctors and nurses. Filled with pictures and suitable for children this book is an excellent example of supporting siblings and providing information.

Please get in touch if you would like to see the full booklet.

Family Awareness Session (support network, 5.3, daily cares, 5.6)

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow

The neonatal unit at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow provide parent education and craft sessions to equip parents with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be actively involved in their baby’s daily cares and decision making processes.

‘CPR’, ‘Bathing’, ‘Sterilising and making up feeds’ and ‘Transitioning to breastfeeding’ are just some of the classes offered to support parents to feel prepared and confident in providing daily cares.

The ‘Parents participate in ward rounds’ and ‘What can parents be involved in?’ sessions empower parents to assume a lead role in discussions around their baby’s care plan. There are also sessions to promote positive touch, developmental care and feeding along with classes that recognise the emotional well-being of the family, such as ‘Coping with stresses.

The sessions are well advertised on a monthly timetable giving parents the opportunity to plan their time around the sessions.

Parent passport (Standard 5.4 A, B)

Central Newborn and Trent Perinatal Networks

The parent passport developed by the Central Newborn and Trent Perinatal Networks enables parents to understand the scope of their involvement in their baby's care and achieves continuity of involvement across the Network(s). While it is recognised that each unit has their own competency framework in place for parents, this document equips units with the knowledge of what parents and carers have previously achieved whilst on another unit to achieve continuity of support for them.

Staff and parent communication (5.4 A)

St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey

St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, have created a cot side communication card which facilitates communication between staff and parents. This card is at each cot side and parents can leave a message for their baby’s healthcare professional. Parents are given a full induction on how to use this.

Parent checklist booklet (standard 5.6)

Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth

Queen Alexandra Hospital have created a parent checklist booklet, which empowers parents to find out what cares they can be involved with and what information they should be finding out. It also takes them through their entire journey on a neonatal unit and reminds them to look at their baby's care plan.

Parent education app (standard 5.6)

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London

Imperial Hospital NHS Trust have developed a practical educational app for parents to support the ethos of family integrated care, helping them to understand what’s happening to their baby and increase their engagement and confidence in care-giving. The app gives parents the opportunity to learn more about expressing, skin-to-skin, feeding progress and growth. Parents are also able to record events, pictures and memories of their neonatal journey.

Find out more about the app.