Hi, or as they say in Sweden “Hej”! My name is Adele and I am an ANNP working in the Southwest. I was awarded the NNA Kate Farrer Foundation Transport Scholarship in 2021 whilst working with the SoNAR transport team in Bristol. I applied for the Scholarship so that I could travel to Sweden and explore the concept of kangaroo position in neonatal transport, as I had seen an article that had been written here about using this position. The KaCooN project was a great success, and the SoNAR transport team are now offering kangaroo position to all suitable patients and are performing several of these moves each week! The concept has also received a lot of national interest with other transport services now working alongside SoNAR to introduce the position within their services.
“After being awarded an NNA Scholarship I thought it would be helpful to share my experiences and the reasons I think the project was such a success”
Tip 1- Apply through the NNA!
The NNA offer several scholarships every year, focused completely on supporting Neonatal Nurses to improve practice and patient experience. Not only are there plenty of scholarships available, but they are also all supported by experts within neonatal nursing, who will guide you every step of the way. I was very well supported through the application process, where I firstly had to complete an application form and then later attend a (very friendly!) interview to discuss my ideas in more detail. Once I had been awarded the scholarship the support continued- there were group teams meetings where I could talk through my project with other scholars and webinars giving me the skills and knowledge to later publish my work. It has provided me with networking opportunities and the chance to present at neonatal focused meetings and conferences. If you would like to improve patient care or your CV- this is for you! I honestly could not recommend the programme enough.
Tip 2- Find a project you are passionate about
I believed in my project from the very beginning and this enthusiasm and belief only grew with the knowledge and experience I gained. I don’t think the project would have been successful if I was looking at a concept I didn’t love. Find an area of neonatology that really means something to you- whether that is family-centred care, the use of particular treatments, new equipment or staff well-being. The opportunities are endless, and you only need a little seed to grow a big tree.
We gave our project a name and logo so that we could share our progress via social media and at events. It was fun thinking of a unique name and a cute logo to match, we even gave out kangaroo teddies and special certificates to our first ten moves.
Tip 3- Learn from the best
We spent a lot of time making contact with teams in Sweden and planning our trip so that we got the most out of our time there. We were careful to select teams that had used the device on transports and that were enthusiastic to meet with us and share their experiences. With the benefits of modern communication we have been able to keep in close contact with the Swedish teams since visiting to ask any other questions or share experiences that have come to light.
Tip 4- Find or create a great team
I honestly believe the project worked because I was surrounded by such a passionate and open-minded team, who were willing to listen to my ideas and support me to implement the project within our transport service. If you are not lucky enough to have that team, then make it! I worked closely with Kirsty, one of the transport nurses, who was equally passionate about family-centred care and being able to offer this to our patients. She came with me to Sweden and had so many different ideas and questions to raise whilst we were there that we certainly came back with double the information I would have alone. Change management tools can really help shape those ideas into a structured plan to implement new concepts and can also highlight any potential challenges.
Tip 5- Not everyone will like change
Naturally, people can be anxious or weary of change. If you go into the project expecting to meet resistance you will be prepared for it and have the skills to work together to overcome these stumbling blocks. Try not to take it personally- easy said than done in my case (!), but it does not mean that people don’t like or value your project. Listen to concerns and address them clearly. They may be highlighting points you have not even considered or noticed. Work together and involve them in finding solutions, they can be part of the project’s success rather than failure. We developed a guideline and an emergency procedure walk-through (not everyone likes the word SIM!!) for everyone to read and complete prior to using the device. This also helped ease concerns, especially around removing the baby from the device in an emergency.
Tip 6- “you have to see it to believe it”
I found the more staff that used the device and moved babies in the kangaroo position the more staff wanted to be involved. Word of mouth is powerful- staff were sharing special and positive experiences with each other, inspiring others to offer it to parents they met on transfers. I received some fantastic emails from staff saying how settled both the babies and parents were and how they couldn’t wait to use the device again. Encourage staff to share their positive experiences with others but also support issues to be raised and addressed in a productive manner.
Tip 7- All the hard work will be worth it
The project was a lot of hard work and took time to complete, but it was worth it. Speaking to parents and staff who have experienced the kangaroo position in neonatal transport I have learnt (and seen first-hand) the importance and benefits of keeping parent and child in close physical contact. The scholarship has also allowed me the opportunity to create posters, present at conferences and work with other neonatal transport teams to share knowledge and experiences. I am extremely grateful to have had this experience and for all the other opportunities it has opened for me.
With special thanks to all the infants, families and professionals involved in the project.