To keep everyone on the unit as safe as possible, the First Touch team have been working from home. We have been in constant contact with unit staff to ensure they and all the families are getting all the support they need. This update from our amazing Family Centred Care Co-ordinator, Bobbie Everson, gives an insight into life on the the unit right now.
In a sense the Neonatal Unit is in a little “ Coronavirus bubble”. We are indirectly greatly affected by what is happening in the hospital and the world around us, without nursing any affected adult patients.
What we might see on NNU are babies born of suspected or positive mums, who need Neonatal care. They are brought straight to the unit Isolation Room and sadly cannot be visited by their family. This is terrible for the families involved, and awful for staff having to enforce this vital rule. This is where our vCreate video/photo messaging system which is funded by First Touch is really coming into its own. The family consent to using the system and then staff are able to send them a photo or video of their baby by email. Staff will regularly verbally update parents, but vCreate provides a small ray of light in a very difficult situation.
The very necessary new restrictions on visiting the NNU mean that at present, only parents are allowed on to the unit. This sadly means that big brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles will be unable to meet these precious little ones for quite some time. Parents have been very understanding about this, but it’s such a devastating situation for all involved. However, the worse thing I have had to manage is the fact that when a precious baby dies, although parents can spend time with them on the unit, once their baby goes to the Mortuary, parents and wider family are sadly not able to go and see them.
Like everywhere else in the NHS, staffing levels on the unit have been affected, but so far senior management have managed this fantastically and the unit continues to run safely and efficiently.
Staff on NNU, like everyone else, have struggled over the last few weeks to obtain basic supplies for home. Working a long 12 hour shift and then trying to get loo rolls, eggs and pasta after this has been impossible. Staff have greatly appreciated the help First Touch and their wonderful donors have given us. Food boxes for staff to help themselves to and ensuring staff have a hot meal at work, have all helped to take the pressure off staff and to raise morale on the unit. After a particularly busy night shift, Joy the sister in charge, said a group of nurses went to enjoy breakfast together with their First Touch meal voucher – a time to eat, chat, laugh and unwind – ready to go home, sleep well and come back the next night.
I’m sure over the next few weeks and months we will see other changes on NNU. There have been wards in the hospital that have closed and staff re-deployed – we do not know if this will be the same for us. The thought of this is very unsettling for staff as well as the fact that many are already concerned about how the virus might affect their own immediate family and relatives.
And so it has been lovely to hear and read so many comments and emails from staff this week thanking First Touch for all of the lovely positive things they do for nurses, doctors and families on the unit, especially in these difficult times and we are all grateful to the First Touch supporters that make this possible. Thank you all so much for your kindness.
Sending you a huge virtual hug and hoping you all stay safe 🙂