Every NICU parent remembers admission day! It is a new environment with new sounds, small babies, that might be your own, and a completely new care team with a medical language you have to learn. Upon admission, the first few encounters a parent has with their baby’s care team is the most crucial and telling sign as to how family centered that unit is. As a parent, you are scared; do not understand fully what is happening to your baby or why they are truly in the NICU. Those first encounters with the care team can be vital in nurturing parent or caregiver engagement and trust. Each baby’s diagnosis is unique, resulting in different ways that parent can nurture and care for their baby. Even if the baby is on a ventilator, there are ways parents can comfort and increase the bond with their child. Fostering that relationship among the parents and the care team benefits both sides.
Family engagement has shown to have many potential benefits that include a shorter length of stay, decreased readmission, reduced parental stress, increased confident after discharge, and increased staff satisfaction. Taking just a few minutes with parents to show them how they can collaborate with the care team to help improve their baby’s outcome will result in a true family centered care approach with lasting benefits.
Mary Catherine Tagg Burke is the Director of Special Events at Regional One Health Foundation and is an active TIPQC Board Member.