Parents of premature and sick newborn babies being cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Derriford Hospital will now receive extra support, through the use of a new video messaging app.
vCreate Neonatal is a safe and secure service that allows hospital staff to record and send video updates to parents when they are unable to be with their child.
“Having a premature or sick baby being cared for in the NICU can be an extremely worrying time for parents and families,” explains Jo Bennett, Family Support Sister and Neonatal Outreach Lead for the Plymouth Unit. “Leaving your baby, whether that’s to go back home, particularly if you have other children to care for, or just to get further supplies or have some rest, can increase this anxiety further.
“We are always looking for ways we can improve support and make things easier for our parents. So when we heard about vCreate we were keen to find out more and to introduce it on the Unit.”
Through vCreate, NICU staff are now able to record short video updates for parents to watch when away from the Unit. Parents are invited to register for an account, which enables them to log in (via any device) and see video updates of their baby. The app notifies parents when a new video is available for them to see, and they can in turn send messages in reply back to the staff.
Leesha Warring, whose son Romeo was born at 26 weeks, is finding the app helpful in putting her mind at ease, during Romeo’s stay in NICU.
She said: “Having a baby in NICU, you find you are always thinking of them. So when you can’t actually be there, but you see a video of them, it makes you so relieved and happy.
“It’s surreal to have carried the baby but then after you’ve had them, not be able to be with them all the time. The video clips help because it’s like the baby is still with you. If you wake up worrying in the night, you can see that they’re okay.
“Using vCreate means I feel a lot closer to Romeo, because even when I’m not there, I still know what is happening and how he is doing.”
The Plymouth NICU receives roughly 400 admissions a year, with some babies spending up to four months on the Unit, if very premature.
“Having a baby in NICU, especially for a long period of time, can affect maternal mental health, and so anything that can alleviate our parents’ worries can only be a good thing,” adds Jo.
“Being able to access videos of their baby when they are away from the Unit, we hope will provide parents with further reassurance of their baby’s wellbeing and will, hopefully, help to minimise separation anxiety. Parents can also download the video clips to keep and share with their family and friends.”
The vCreate Neonatal system has NHS approval and is now being used in other neonatal units around the UK. Until now it had only been purchased through fundraising efforts by individual Trusts. However, Babcock International, who provides skilled engineering services, wanted to help.
“It is a pleasure to support such a worthy initiative, which will make such a significant, positive difference to parents,” said Will Erith, Programme Performance Director from Babcock Devonport. “We look forward to seeing the equipment in action and hearing more about the benefits it is bringing to families of the infants on the unit.”
Thanks to Babcock’s generous donation, the vCreate service will be free for parents and the Plymouth NICU to use.
“Each baby’s vCreate account will also be able to follow them if they are discharged to other local Trusts, which enables their videos to stay with them,” adds Jo. “We are extremely grateful to Babcock International for their generosity and this welcome addition to what we are able to offer our parents.”
Ben Moore, Founder of vCreate, who is pictured below with the NICU team, said: “We are delighted that the NICU at Derriford Hospital has chosen to make this new service available to parents. We hope having access to video updates of their baby will provide reassurance to parents.”
If you would be interested in sponsoring or fundraising for the NICU or any other departments within University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, please visit: http://bit.ly/PHNTfundraising
To find out more about vCreate, please visit: https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/vcreate-neonatal/