Parental access during COVID-19

Bliss' statement on parental access and involvement during COVID-19, and other helpful resources.

On this page you will find:

  • Bliss’ position on parental access and involvement
  • Best practice and shared learning from neonatal units and networks
  • Latest updates to this page

Bliss Statement

In response to the growing intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the UK have severely limited who is able to come onto hospital sites in an attempt to reduce the spread of infections.

Ensuring the safety of vulnerable babies on neonatal units during the COVID-19 outbreak is paramount. But parents are not visitors, and they need to continue to be partners in delivering their baby’s care and decision making.

Download our full statement below.

Bliss now have a letter of support that can be sent to Trusts to outline the importance of removing barriers to parents being with their baby. Contact us to request a letter. BAPM also have a letter that can be downloaded to support unrestricted access for parents.


Bliss statement on parental access

Best practice and shared learning

We know that neonatal services across the UK are working hard to implement policies which support continued parental involvement, while also aligning with national and local guidance which is emerging in response to the challenges caused by COVID-19.

We have grouped together some examples of best practice and useful resources. If you have a resource your unit or network has developed that you want to share, please send it to hcp@bliss.org.uk

Best practice
  • Shielding or home-based staff calling parents to check in and offer support
  • If parents are unable to see their baby due to needing to self-isolate (e.g. if they have COVID-19/been in contact with someone who has) allowing parents to nominate other family members (e.g. grandparents) to go on to the unit in their place. 
  • Facilitating parental access to parents who are COVID-19 positive if their baby is critically ill or receiving end of life or palliative care.
  • Allowing nominated carers access where there is only one parent. 
  • Enabling parents to remove masks at the cot side.
  • Arranging virtual coffee mornings for discharged parents (and potentially also parents on the unit) to meet for peer support, chat to unit staff (community nurse and consultant, possibly other staff too) and Bliss Champion.
  • Feeding team using video calls to offer extra support to mothers
  • Access to food/parking vouchers etc.
  • Neonatal expenses fund (Scotland)

For best practice policies please refer to the guidance from RCPCH, supported by BAPM and Bliss' position statement.

Top tips

We also wanted to share other resources that can support families and staff at this time.

  • Bliss can provide a letter of support to share with Trusts where parental access remains restricted
  • The National Bereavement Care Pathway have adapted their resources to establish a minimum level of bereavement care which should be maintained during COVID-19
  • Many are using video technology to enhance the support provided to families on the unit. Don’t forget that there are multiple uses for video technology, with just some listed below:
    • vCreate for families to keep connected
    • Using MS Teams or Zoom for PAG meetings
    • Follow up appointments held online
    • Staff education and training
  • Where appropriate, ensure meetings and training are recorded and shared with those unable to attend or so they can be revisited after the session
  • Continue to signpost families to support organisations and services including Bliss, Lullaby Trust, Twins Trust, Citizens Advice and local support charities.
  • Sands have also developed resources for providing excellent communication with the barrier of PPE.

Updates to this page

23 October 2020

  • Updated best practice examples and additional top tips

16 October 2020

  • Bliss letter of support made available to neonatal units

6 June 2020

  • Bliss position updated to reflect the change in guidance in some areas of the UK which require those attending hospital to wear a face covering.
  • Additional recommendations added to align with RCPCH and BAPM in supporting parents to remove face coverings while cotside with their baby.

7 May 2020

  • Bliss position updated to reflect new guidance from BAPM on parental presence and involvement during COVID-19. The position statement also includes a new recommendation around parental testing.
  • Best practice list updated.

5 May 2020

  • Best practice section added.

30 April 2020

  • Bliss position statement updated to include: specific recommendations for parental access for parents of twins and multiples, developed with Twins Trust; updated current guidance section referencing new Neonatal Transport Group guidelines and updated impact evidence for developmental outcomes associated with parental involvement.

8 April 2020

  • First version of the Bliss position on parental access and involvement during COVID-19 published.