Derriford Hospital Awarded Gold Bliss Baby Charter Accreditation

Posted on June 12, 2023

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We are delighted to announce that Derriford Hospital neonatal unit has successfully completed its Gold accreditation and has demonstrated that they have sufficient processes and facilities in place to deliver high quality family-centred care.

The assessment was carried out virtually with Derriford neonatal unit on 20 April 2023. The assessment was carried out by Bliss Baby Charter Programme Officer, Anna Moore, and Volunteer Assessors, Lynne Wainwright and Claire Grey. The Baby Charter lead for the unit was Róisín McKeon-Carter.

The assessment demonstrated that staff at Derriford neonatal unit are dedicated to providing the best possible service in line with the principles of family-centred care outlined in the Bliss Baby Charter.

Parents are actively encouraged to be part of their baby’s care and supported to be so. Feedback from parents on the day was extremely positive regarding both the care of their baby and the support families have received from staff practically and emotionally.

Róisín McKeon-Carter, Neonatal Nurse Consultant and Baby Charter Lead, said: "I am absolutely thrilled that Derriford Neonatal Services have been awarded the Bliss Baby Charter Gold Award achieving 98.6%.

"As a neonatal MDT, we have always had the baby and family at the centre of our care, however having the Bliss audit to focus and direct us has resulted in cohesive baby and family focussed services.

"Initially we were reluctant to submit to the Bliss audit as we were anxious that we didn’t have absolutely everything in place that the audit requested, therefore we didn’t submit our first audit until 2017. The feedback from the Bliss team was so helpful, and it spurred us on to forge ahead. We have submitted 5 audits, achieving a pledge of improvement in 2019, Bronze in 2021, Silver in 2022 and Gold in 2023.

"Throughout the audit process, we were able to develop our services to achieve the audit. For example, Parental/Family accommodation, ‘KEEP ME CLOSE’, and other support, such as free parking, meals, and Wi-Fi. This was achieved by us keeping the family at the very centre and appointing a dedicated fundraiser to raise funds for our accommodation.

"Our fundraiser, Tracey Stacey, an ex-NICU mum of a 23-weeker, has not only been outstanding at fundraising, and along with our Matron, Katie Hoffman, she established our ‘KEEP ME CLOSE’ closed Facebook group which is a support network for all parents who have received care. Staff can ask to join too and must be approved by Tracey. We love when parents share lovely photographs of our ‘NICU Graduates as it keeps us close to our families and we can see ‘the fruits of our labour’.

"We have focussed on building our nursing, medical, ancillary and AHP workforce, the latter has been a challenge as there has not been NHSE funding for commissioning these roles until recently. The audit enabled the team to develop other supporting services including, Neonatal Transport, Transitional Care, Outreach, Bereavement and BFI and with dedicated time for those leading the services.

"The audit has been helpful in keeping our focus on the baby/family in our care and our Neonatal MDT, and that includes parents, are very proud to have achieved this Gold Award – thank you."

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Bliss was impressed by many aspects of the unit’s care, including just a few examples:

  • A very cohesive and passionate senior team who has substantial non-clinical time.
  • The availability of a dedicated bereavement lead and outreach sister who has undergone a counselling course and is continuing to develop the service by training bereavement Link nurses.
  • The compassionate and sensitive delivery of individualised bereavement support, including memory making, home visits with the bereavement lead and a consultant, and supporting bereaved mothers to donate their milk amongst many other initiatives.
  • Support for parents whose baby was on end-of-life care to have family time in the Secret Garden and enable their wishes for their baby to experience being outside before dying.
  • Cuddle care bundle, including delivery room cuddles, that has been developed at Derriford and is about to be launched network-wide. It was particularly impressive to hear that even very pre-term babies are able to receive delivery room cuddles with the support of a senior neonatologist.
  • The support of the senior medical team in training and developing the skills of junior doctors in family-centred care and developmental care.

A parent from the unit said: ‘Words cannot express how wonderful the NICU team have been with us since having our twins at 24+6 weeks. The whole experience from the beginning was very overwhelming and frightening but the team from the start were always there for you and helped us become involved as much as we wanted to with their care.

"They taught us how to handhold and comfort them when they were too small to come out of the incubators and encouraged cuddles as soon as they were well enough and explained all the benefits, so we understood the importance of them.

"We are so confident with feeding our twins after being shown early on how to tube feed them and do the necessary testing. I’ve had a lot of support with expressing myself as I haven’t found it easy but remain to keep trying!

"We are so thankful for the care you have given both the twins and us and would have been completely lost without you!"

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