The Neonatal Unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) has launched the second Family Integrated Care programme in the city after two successful years at St James’s University Hospital.

The Family Integrated Care programme significantly improves care and outcomes for babies and their families by encouraging and empowering parents to take control of their baby’s care whilst on the neonatal unit.

Parents are given coaching on how to care for their babies, including taking regular observations, giving medication, taking temperatures, weighing, and day-to-day activities like feeding and changing.

The St James’s Hospital unit was the first in the country to launch the scheme which has received positive feedback from families who have been involved. Thanks to its success, the approach is now being replicated at the LGI.

Evidence shows that the approach significantly increases breastfeeding rates for babies less than 33 weeks at birth (32%) and on discharge (69%). Babies therefore have better weight gain and are more likely to go home up to a week earlier than babies that have received standard care. Parents who have gained knowledge and confidence through the programme are significantly less likely to visit the GP with their babies too.

As part of Leeds Baby Week 2017, the Neonatal service held a launch event celebrating the implementation of Family Integrated Care at the LGI in the Clarendon wing reception. This was a great opportunity for parents to be and new families to learn and ask questions about Family Integrated Care. There was also an opportunity to speak with other families who have used our integrated care service and learn about their experiences. 

Family Integrated Care at Leeds Teaching Hospitals is delivered by a multidisciplinary team who help to educate parents on every aspect of their baby’s care. This team consists of the neonatal nursing staff, parents of babies born prematurely, an outreach nursing team to support the families when they go home, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychology counsellor, a breastfeeding specialist midwife and a consultant neonatologist.

Dr Liz McKechnie, Consultant Neonatologist, said: “Ordinarily nurses and doctors do most of the care leaving parents feeling isolated from looking after their baby. We wanted to change this to provide a truly patient-centred service that provides the best for the babies and their parents.” 

Professor Suzanne Hinchliffe CBE, Chief Nurse, who joined Dr McKechnie at the launch said: “The results we’ve seen at St James’s speak for themselves. It’s really quite incredible. I am very proud of the team and I look forward to seeing this replicated at the LGI.”

The Family Integrated Care ethos was first pioneered by Dr Shoo Lee, a Neonatologist in Toronto. Dr Shoo Lee and his colleague Karel O’Brien supported the introduction of Family Integrated Care in Leeds, sharing their resources which were adapted by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals team.

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