Hospital earns accreditation for supporting parents’ involvement in neonatal care

Wirral University Teaching Hospital receives accreditation for supporting parents to be involved in their newborn babies’ care

Wirral University Teaching Hospital (WUTH) has been recognised for its work ensuring that parents can take part in their babies’ care when they are in the Neonatal Unit of the Wirral Women and Children’s Hospital at Arrowe Park, which provides special care to babies who have been born before their due date, or need extra care or treatment straight after they are born.

WUTH has received a top accreditation from FiCare – or Family Integrated Care – under a North West FiCare accreditation scheme operated by the North West Neonatal Operational Delivery Network.

The FICare scheme provides a framework that supports the implementation of a family integrated care model and has a website helpful tools and resources to support staff and families.

The care model promotes a strong partnership between families and hospital staff, empowering parents in their role as primary carers for their infant. FiCare advocates support and education for parents to take part in their babies’ care from the time they are admitted, in partnership with the Neonatal Team.

A pilot study carried out by FiCare showed that parents report feeling less stressed when they were supported by the family integrated care model. Improved outcomes for babies have also been seen, such as improved baby growth rates and increased breastfeeding uptake rates.

The ‘green’ level accreditation that WUTH has received from FiCare is the highest level of accreditation and reflects the hospital’s commitment to providing the best care for newborn babies.

North West Neonatal Operational Delivery Network (NWODN) introduced the network FiCare approach in 2018 to ensure consistency for families in the Northwest. The accreditation process provides assurance that FiCare is embedded in everyday practice within the neonatal service and is offered to every family, every time.

The FiCare panel who visited felt that WUTH’s Neonatal Unit had made excellent progress since receiving ‘amber’ accreditation in May 2022 and that family integrated care was now truly embedded in everything it does.  The review also looked at evidence in the form of direct feedback from families and staff, which remained very positive about the initiative.

As part of the NWODN FiCare accreditation, all neonatal units are assessed against a range of measures. These were developed utilising the four pillars from the Canadian model of FiCare. Units much demonstrate achievement of all 4 pillars to gain the green accreditation status. The four pillars are:

  • Staff education and support
  • Parent education
  • Neonatal Unit environment
  • Psycho-social support (i.e., to do with mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects) 

Dr Sarah Thompson, Consultant Neonatologist said, “This is a fantastic achievement for the WUTH Neonatal Team. It’s vital that parents are as involved as they can be in their baby’s care during their time in the unit.

“There is growing evidence that it makes a real difference to the baby’s progress and parents’ wellbeing. There are so many members of staff involved in ensuring FiCare is embedded in everything we do, and I’d like to say a big thank you to the whole team for their hard work in introducing and maintaining these high standards of care.”

WUTH Chief Nurse and Executive Director for Midwifery, Tracy Fennell said, “Achieving this accreditation is a real testament to the team and reflects the hard work our staff and midwives do every day and how we strive to give the best care to our babies and families.

“The FiCare accreditation sits alongside a number of key steps we have taken in providing assurance against national and regional standards to demonstrate how we deliver consistently safe and effective care in our maternity and neonatal services.”

Image: Dr Sarah Thompson, WUTH Consultant Neonatologist (centre right) with some of the team involved in achieving FiCare accreditation

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