Harriet Vickers, Neonatal Unit, Rosie Hospital, Cambridge UK
I arrived for my night shift and as usual entered the unit through our reception, only to find a huge sign in place explaining how guidance from hospital chiefs stated that parents are no longer allowed on the unit. As parents are usually allowed unlimited access to the unit and their baby, this was a shock for the unit and all families. This decision was only in place for 24 hours but the impact on families was huge. Our visiting times then changed to one parent per baby for a maximum of 2 hours a day and each parent had to come at a separate time to the other parents visiting their babies. Our work as neonatal nurses had changed. As we usually care and support parents almost as much as their babies when they visit, to go to only seeing one for 2 hours a day was vastly different. It was heart breaking picking up the phone to update a parent on their baby’s condition and hearing them breakdown with anxiety as they had not been able to see their baby for days. This taught me to aim my care towards empowering parents when they do visit and to make the most of the new Face time options the senior staff set up on the unit. To use the 2 hours to help that mum to breast feed for the first time, first skin to skin with dad and to really get each parent involved as much as was appropriate with their baby’s care was more important than ever.
Parents are still part of the baby’s care team and thus should be treated as such even under the new conditions that are in place for everyone’s safety. Something we all must try and hold on to during this uncertain time to ensure we still provide the excellent care we love being a part of.