The Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s Neonatal team has embraced technology to allow parents and families to be closer to their babies.

They’ve introduced the VCreate app, a secure video messaging service that enables staff on the unit to record and send secure pictures and video updates to parents at a time when they’re less able to physically be by their child’s side.

Launched in February, the platform allows parents to register for an account that is approved by staff on the unit, enabling the team to assign pictures and videos to the appropriate parent.

“More connected with their Baby”

Melissa Booker is a Staff Nurse on the unit, she said: “As a student nurse I’d seen the app work during a placement at a neighbouring hospital and could see how it helped families connect with their babies. I mentioned it to my Matron, Keely Turner, booked a demo and we’ve worked very hard to make the app available for our families.

“The reaction to the app has been very positive, especially as visiting is restricted to only include parents of the baby. Under normal circumstances we take great pride in including the whole family as part of our overall care so to be able to offer them something that makes them feel more connected with their baby, allows them to see how they’re developing and even send messages back to interact is a major step forwards.”

Alerts can be set up so that parents know when a new message, photo or video has been uploaded for them and it slowly builds up into a media diary for them. They can also download and save the media which enables them to share the images with relatives and other family members, just like they could if they took the photos themselves. It also means that if the baby is transferred to another unit, the account and media moves with them.

“Bridges a gap”

“We’ve all had to think a bit differently about how we deliver care,” added Melissa, “and it’s a little more complicated on our unit for parents and sibling to keep in touch. Unlike an inpatient, children’s or even a maternity ward where Mum is with her baby physically, keeping in touch with our babies directly is much more complicated without being here. This app bridges that gap.

“We can record and send special moments, show them the progress of their baby and visually explain what we’re doing which is so much more involved than a phone call and more in line with what we’d do if they were able to visit in person.”

Melissa and Keely are set up as VCreat champions alongside Staff Nurses Heather Spencer, Carole Deane and Olivia McDermott.