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Blog: The Baby Friendly neonatal standards in action

Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust

Home > Blog: The Baby Friendly neonatal standards in action in Bradford

18 Sept 2018

Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust’s neonatal unit is the first level 3 unit to achieve Baby Friendly neonatal accreditation, and it’s making a huge difference to families’ experiences. We spoke to Matron, Kelly Young, and Specialist Midwife in Infant Feeding, Janette Westman, about the impact of the standards on care for the most vulnerable babies and their families. 

“The neonatal standards have a massive impact on parents – they took our work beyond what we were already doing with Family Integrated Care. Implementing the standards is really about a multi-disciplinary, team approach and a whole culture change – for example we have a matron who can push the standards forward, a consultant who successfully advocated at a senior level for unrestricted access for parents, and a healthcare support worker to give additional support for breastfeeding.

The standards have helped us look at the more personal touches beyond enabling parents to have 24 hour access to their babies – making the neonatal unit homely and welcoming. It’s not just “allowing” people to be there all the time, but making it a place where they want to be. Parents wear slippers here, they say it’s like a home. They love the comfy chairs we provide, and that siblings, grandparents and other family members are also welcome.”

Thank you for all you did for us … from much needed midnight tea and toast, first skin-to-skin, helping us feed and wash and change [our daughter], supporting us with breastfeeding, making us feel so safe and comfortable in a very unknown environment … and documenting [our] journey with photos and other memories to keep forever … we’ll never be able to thank you enough!

“Parents are really valued as partners in their babies’ care – they’re taught how to carry out cares right from the start. Parents used to fit in with staff schedules, but now staff time the cares for when parents are available to be involved. We have a nurse-led ward round on a Tuesday, where parents feedback on their own baby’s progress, rather than the other way round – after all, they know their baby best.

We support parents to have lots of kangaroo care and skin-to-skin contact with their baby, which is so important for their baby’s development and wellbeing. Mothers are supported with expressing their milk, and there’s a fridge in each room to store their own milk – they have lots of autonomy. When babies are sent home tube feeding, we make sure parents are confident with this, and there are outreach support workers to help them continue tube feeding and transition to breastfeeding when they’re ready. This confidence helps parents to take their time with transitioning to breastfeeding rather than rushing into it and losing heart if it doesn’t work quickly.

We work to empower parents to make the unit their own and start their own projects to make life on the unit easier. At Christmas one mum used babies’ hand prints to make reindeer cards for all the parents on the unit. We’ve also got little memory books for parents to use to record memories of their baby, and staff take photos of any “firsts” to include in the books or for parents’ birthday cards. One parent who sadly lost her baby set up a charitable trust to support parents – it’s funded a parent-run initiative of providing a drawstring bag with overnight essentials – toothbrush, toothpaste, slippers, etc. for parents who hadn’t expected to be on the unit, and it’s also funded a project to make patchwork blankets to cover incubators to keep the lights out and calm babies. Parents and staff are working together to make the whole experience better – it’s stunning that parents feel confident enough to be able to do develop their own ideas. To get that welcoming atmosphere in an intensive care situation is wonderful and rare.”

We had no idea about the incredible work that goes on in Bradford hospitals neonatal unit, but now we’ll never be able to forget it!

“Our top tips for other services about to start their Baby Friendly journey would be to get a strategic group together consisting of at least a Baby Friendly lead, a consultant, matron (or a staff member senior enough that they can affect change), dietician/nutritionist, some on the ground staff, outreach midwives if you have them and parents – really important to get parents’ views. This way some of the challenges for different groups can be addressed at regular strategy group meetings (we held ours monthly) and it’s much easier to change practice when everybody feels involved. The neonatal unit also has their own Facebook page, where top tips and changes in practice can be shared. Also, celebrate your success – even if it’s just changing small things and especially as you reach milestones such as a new stage of Baby Friendly accreditation.”

You are all angels!! … you have all guided us with a steady hand, a loving hand, a friend’s hand. The care and empathy you have shown to us and all those parents and sick children around us has inspired us. We feel the only way to honour the bravery, skill and essence of care we have experienced is to try our best to bring up [our son] showered with the light of compassion you have touched us all with. If he grows up to be like any of you we will know we have done our job as parents and fulfilled our promise to you.

Find out more

Embedding Baby Friendly standards in neonatal care course

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Neonatal National Infant Feeding Network

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