The neonatal unit at Frimley Park Hospital has become the third in the United Kingdom to gain official Bliss Baby Charter accreditation for delivering high quality family-centred care, from the national charity Bliss.
At a ceremony held on the unit, Bliss Chair of Trustees Sarah Mullen presented staff with a plaque and certificate marking their achievement, which follows a process of auditing and embedding improvement plans. Gaining Bliss Baby Charter accreditation was a team effort involving both healthcare professionals and parents of babies needing neonatal care.
Lauren Hutchings, a mother who spent time with her baby on the neonatal unit at Frimley Park, said that staff helped make the experience of having a child in hospital much easier.
Lauren's son Logan Armour unexpectedly arrived six weeks early in July and spent a week on the unit. Lauren and her partner had not yet bought all the baby products they needed but the staff were happy to help.
Lauren said: "The staff were amazing. We were given a starter pack with a knitted set of a hat and mittens as well as a few things like nappies. It was one less thing to worry about. We spent about a week on the unit and there were lots of little things in place to make things less stressful for parents. There were packs for parents with towels for taking showers and toothbrushes in case you left yours at home. There was also a room where parents could go and make themselves a hot drink.
"It is incredibly important for a hospital to have facilities like this in place so that parents can spend as much time as possible with their baby and not have to worry about anything else."
The Bliss Baby Charter was developed by Bliss to help hospitals caring for premature and sick babies to assess the quality of care they provide and identify areas for improvement. Through the accreditation process, Bliss recognises and rewards excellence in the family-centred care delivered by neonatal units all the while supporting units to improve their practice.
Extensive research has shown that putting families at the heart of their baby's care is hugely beneficial. For babies, it can lower stress levels, improve long-term health outcomes, shorten hospital stays and reduce hospital readmissions. For parents, it helps promote bonding with their baby, and improves their confidence as a parent. For professionals, it can help improve relations between parents and staff, as well as freeing up nursing time, increasing productivity and boosting staff morale.
"We felt actively involved in our son’s care while at Frimley Park," said Lauren, "I felt like everything about Logan’s care was my decision. My partner did all of Logan’s tube feedings himself and when we switched to breastfeeding the staff were encouraging and supportive."
Jennifer Lomas, Senior Clinical Matron for Paediatrics and Neonates at Frimley Park Hospital said: "The neonatal unit at Frimley is very proud to achieve this award. We receive regular positive feedback from families surrounding the care that we provide and having the Bliss accreditation is a formal recognition of this.
"As a team we are extremely proud of our achievement and we are focused and passionate about delivering family-centred care on a daily basis. We would like to recognise the support that Bliss has given us throughout the process.
"As a unit we have been Unicef Baby Friendly accredited at Level 3 and having this award is the icing on the cake."
Bliss Chair of Trustees Sarah Mullen said: "I am overjoyed to be able to formally recognise the ongoing commitment of staff at Frimley Park to put babies and their families at the heart of everything they do."
"Frimley Park's family-centred approach to the care of vulnerable babies has won them a Bliss Baby Charter accreditation - making them one of only three units in the whole country to receive this prestigious award. And the first in their neonatal Network.
"The work of staff here is making a vital difference to the lives of the babies they care for every single day. I hope that other neonatal units around the country will be able to look to Frimley Park as an example of excellence."
Find out more about the Bliss Baby Charter