Neonatal Nursing through a pandemic is both, challenging and rewarding. I belief, we are by no means over this crisis but the focus has shifted from making a new situation safer, to identifying and implementing measures to safeguard patients and staff in the long term. At the beginning of the pandemic we struggled with anxiety over the unknown and how we can protect patients, us and our own families. Guidelines, policies and pathways were introduced to ensure the care of a so called “red patient” (a baby/family which is either suspected or confirmed to have Covid19) was to the highest standard, whilst protecting ourselves. Initially, these guidelines, policies and pathways changed all the time, adjusting to best possible practice and the latest government advise. This in itself has been mentally draining for us all.
However, undeniably there has also been a so called ‘silver lining’ from this situation. Additional pressure on all of our staff during the lockdown period, through home schooling or loss of child care support from family members, inspired an exceptional team spirit where every one of us rearranged their shifts to support each other. The emotional support just by being in the same situation together, listening to each other and providing a safe environment has been invaluable. I also believe we have connected to parents on a new level. We as a trust signed up to vCreate, an NHS trusted secure video messaging service with the aim to minimise separation anxiety in parents of children in Neonatal Units. Our unit fully embraced the opportunity vCreate presented. It has given families and nurses a feeling of being connected through a new digital way in an environment of social distancing. We, like all other Neonatal Nurses around the world, found it extremely difficult when the decision was made that only one parent was allowed to visit. This is against our philosophy of family centred care. However, vCreate has not only allowed parents to be closer to their babies in a different way but has given nurses a new perspective and focus on how parents can be and should be included at all times.
I have been a Neonatal Nurse in Colchester for over 15 years and I am proud to say that if I had to be anywhere during a pandemic again, then it would be here.