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Saint Mary’s Hospital to deliver ‘First in the UK’ developmental care programme for neonatal babies

Saint Mary's Hospital provides world class services to women and children across the Greater Manchester area. As a Trust that continuously improves it's services it is also now the first hospital in the UK to deliver the internationally renowned Philips 'Wee-care programme' in the neonatal unit.

The eighteen-month quality improvement programme has already had successes in Europe and across the USA, and will now be developed in Manchester.

The new-born intensive care unit has already successfully implemented Baby Friendly and Best Beginnings initiatives in recent years, and the 'Wee-care' programme is the latest development tool that they have adopted to ensure they are striving to enhance the care they provide.

The developmental care programme aims to minimise the potential detrimental effects that are sometimes the result of a prolonged stay in intensive care.

Areas such as positioning and handling of the babies will all be addressed, and significant positive outcomes are anticipated including strengthening breastfeeding rates and improving noise and light levels that newborns are exposed to.

Starting with an educational aspect, all staff on the new-born intensive care unit are in the process of undergoing training to take forward the goals of the programme, which include:

  • Maintaining a healing environment with lowered noise and light levels to ensure adequate sleep is obtained by the babies
  • Improving the infant and family experience through enhancement of 'kangaroo care'; the skin to skin contact it is possible for parents to have with premature babies
  • Correct positioning and handling of babies to aid development
  • Optimising nutrition with implementation of infant driven feeding and support for transitioning to breastfeeding.

When the programme is fully embedded in the unit there will be several tangible benefits, including increased breastfeeding rates, increased levels of skin-to-skin care given to babies, and reduced stay times in hospital.

Adult hand baby foot B&W

Ngozi Edi-Osagie, Clinical Director for Saint Mary's NICU said:

"As a unit we treat around 1000 babies a year, and support them and their families during what is an incredibly traumatic and worrying time.

"Developmental care is a high priority when treating these babies, and if there is anything we can do to minimise the impact their stay with us has on their long term development, then it is key.

"The Philips programme was a logical next step for us in improving our services, and we're thrilled to be the first in the UK to be implementing it.

"Our intention is that we will be looked to as a centre of best practice for developmental care, and that the principles we adopt in 'Wee-care' will be extremely beneficial to our patients."

As Leslie Altimier, Director of Clinical Affairs & Education, Philips Healthcare comments "We are delighted to be able to support Saint Mary's in this forward thinking project which aims to secure the best possible outcomes for premature infants and their families. By seeking to develop an holistic approach, improve the overall experience and positively impact on the time spent in hospital, Wee Care is just one example of  how our  healthcare solutions and innovative, evidence-based programmes aim to make a real difference to people's lives."

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