October 31, 2016
Lack of support services keeps thousands of parents from their babies
Thousands of parents are being prevented from having close involvement in their babies' neonatal care due to a widespread lack of support services for families, according to a new report from Bliss, the charity for babies born premature or sick.
The report, Families kept apart: barriers to parents' involvement in their baby's hospital care, shows huge variation and frequent gaps in the provision of services across England, such as a lack of overnight accommodation, kitchen space and financial support.
Only five out of 29 neonatal intensive care units meet national standards for the provision of overnight
accommodation for parents. More than one in seven (15 out of 99) neonatal units are unable to provide any, or only provide very limited, facilities or financial support for families. By contrast, all hospital children's departments have some level of accommodation for parents.
The report lists 14 recommendations, including that units should adopt the Bliss Baby Charter, make immediate plans to combat the shortage of accommodation, and ensure their future plans are in line with the Department of Health's Toolkit for High-Quality Neonatal Services. They should also provide more inclusive financial help and improve communication, including ensuring they have a dedicated family support lead.
The full report is available at www.bliss.org.uk/families-kept-apart