The Neonatal unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital has become one of only four in the UK to have received platinum accreditation in the Bliss Baby Charter.
Run by Bliss, a charity supporting babies born premature or sick, the Baby Charter was started in 2005 with the aim of standardising high-quality, family-centred care across the UK. By creating a framework against which neonatal units can audit their practices, it allows them to develop meaningful plans to achieve changes that benefit babies and their families.
The journey for the Neonatal unit to implement the charter began back in 2012, and since then the team have worked their way through each of the stages to achieve the highest level of accreditation. In order to do this, they have had to demonstrate and evidence the quality of the family-centred care that they deliver against a framework of seven core principles:
- Social, developmental and emotional needs
- Decision making
- Specialist services and staff
- Unit information and support for families
After assessing the unit in February, Bliss said that they were impressed by many aspects of the unit’s care and the following elements stood out:
- Availability of a dedicated Family Support and Bereavement Lead Nurse and a Safeguarding Lead.
- The availability of an expert in Development Care with dedicated non-clinical hours enabling her to provide regular cot-side training to staff. The desire to develop a Developmental Care team with more members of staff undertaking FINE training with a clear action plan for future Developmental Care initiatives such as ‘Birthday cuddles’ and undertaking more procedures on babies during skin-to-skin.
- Efforts to maximise developmental care through ‘all time is quiet time’ policy.
- Ensuring that a baby’s care activities are centred around parent availability and the baby’s readiness, as opposed to clustering care activities.
- The availability of support services for bereaved families, including memory boxes, butterflies on cots denoting a bereavement and a dedicated neonatal cold cot.
- The availability of accommodation for parents within the unit and the efforts of staff to ensure that when the rooms are empty, they are offered to parents who may need to rest during the day.
- Follow-ups with all parents post-discharge.
- The provision of free parking and food for parents in the parent kitchen.
- Excellent provision of staff wellbeing services including wellbeing Wednesdays, access to occupational health, a staff support line and activities such as acupuncture and yoga classes. Support from senior medical and nursing staff in the form of staff debriefs following bereavement.
Parent, Louisa Menzel, who has experienced first-hand the support of the Tunbridge Wells Hospital Neonatal unit said: “Even though having a premature baby is scary, the team at Tunbridge Wells supported us through every step of this challenging time.
“The staff became our second family and we could rest easy knowing little Heide was safe and loved in their care – even having “twinkle, twinkle, little star” being sung to her when she woke up in the night! We learned so much from the angels in uniform and when the time came for Heide to join us at home, we were confident in our ability to take care of her.”
Julia Moat, Neonatal IT Lead Nurse, led the project alongside Tara Hayward, Family Support & Bereavement Lead and Janice Anderson, Safeguarding Lead. Julia told us that she was “absolutely thrilled to be the fourth unit in the country to achieve this accolade. Thanks must go to all our neonatal team members for achieving 98.6% on the current re-audit, and to our parents who were involved in this process and used their personal neonatal journeys to ensure our success.”