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Putting family first in the Quinte 7 Special Care Nursery

Imagine you’ve just delivered your baby. He’s a beautiful baby boy but a little premature and he’s not quite ready to breastfeed. He needs a feeding tube and some extra time in QHC’s Special Care Nursery. Maybe this isn’t how you pictured your baby’s first days – you thought you’d both be home by now – but this is a common scenario and QHC’s Quinte 7 Maternal Child Unit staff are doing everything they can to ensure you’re a partner in the planning and care of your baby, even if you can’t be with him every minute.

The goal of QHC’s “Person- and Family-Centred Care” Best Practice Spotlight Organization Guideline is to make patients and families partners in care. The Guideline is being implemented on Quinte 7, starting with the Special Care Nursery, and then will spread to Pediatrics, followed by the Mother-Baby unit.

“Quinte 7, as a whole, really focuses on parents being involved because babies can’t speak for themselves and having someone advocating for them is really important,” explained Jennifer Faulkner, the professional practice specialist who is leading this Best Practice Guideline (BPG). “We want parents to feel they’re a part of the decision-making process. We want them to have input and not feel like we’re dictating their baby’s care.”

Some of the tools and initiatives being implemented in the Special Care Nursery include:

  • A flexible visitors’ plan that doesn’t dictate that one of the baby’s parents must be present when other visitors come to see the baby. For example, if the parents have three other children at home and they feel they need to be home with them for a stretch of time, they can give permission for another family member or friend to spend time with the baby and/or provide care in their place.
  • A Family Integrated Care Checklist that helps ensure parents have the knowledge and skill needed to care for their baby while in the Special Care Nursery (e.g. understanding signs of stress or pain, being comfortable taking baby out of the isolette, taking baby’s temperature and recording it, etc.). This allows parents to be more hands-on in the care of their baby.
  • Providing parents with a journal that they can fill out with information about their baby’s health and progress. They can also write questions in the journal for the pediatrician to answer in the case where busy schedules prevent a face-to-face conversation.
  • Parents fill out a survey that asks about the care of their baby, communication, teamwork, emotional support from the staff, respect, satisfaction with decision making, and consistency of information received. This informs the team on what they’re doing well and areas to improve.

“The nurses have all been really great,” said Kahentiio Maracle, new mother of a baby boy named Jordan. “They’re educating us and explaining everything going on with him. I’ve been discharged and am coming back every three hours for feedings and it’s comforting to know that family members can come visit him too.”

“Person- and family-centred care is so important in health care and it feels like a given,” said Jennifer. “But if you step back and look, you see so many opportunities for improvement. The Maternal Child Program is all about families so it was really natural to bring this Best Practice Guideline to our department.”

It takes a village — Q7 care providers surround new parents and their baby in the Special Care Nursery. From left: Michelle Demill, RN; Kristy Lawson, UCC; Amanda McLennan, RN; Jenn Faulkner, RN and professional practice specialist; parents Kahentiio Maracle and Jordan Lindsay-Campbell; baby Jordan (in isolette); Dr Sarah Waterston; Ceilah O’Prey, Public Health Nurse; Shawna Raymond, RN; Theresa Plane, RN.