A new national initiative Small Wonders Change Programme has been launched to enable every family of a sick or premature baby to be at the cornerstone of their baby’s care in ways that can help to improve health outcomes.
UK-based child health charity Best Beginnings, working with six medical Royal College, UNICEF and more than 15 other organisations, is rolling out a national Small Wonders Change Programme implemented by over 400 nurse, doctor and midwife ‘Champions’ within hospitals throughout the UK to help families of premature and sick babies in the UK irrespective of their socio-economic group, receive the same high quality family-centered care.
At the centre of the programme is the Small Wonders DVD, which is the culmination of two years of intensive work for Best Beginnings and follows fourteen families, charting the real-life experiences the parents faced as they met, cared for, and returned home with their premature or sick baby. With 80,000 babies in the UK each year born either premature or sick it is designed as a tool to enable neonatal staff to support and advise parents through their baby’s stay, and encourage parents to play a pivotal role in the care their baby receives in ways that have been proven to positively impact health outcomes, interventions and activities such expressing breast milk, responding to their baby’s non-verbal cues and having skin-to-skin contact.
Using the expertise of over 200 experts in neonatal care including consultant neonatologists, representatives of Royal Colleges, specialist dieticians and infant feeding specialists and created in conjunction with 10 hospitals across the UK, the Small Wonders DVD is designed to ensure that parents have the insight, guidance, confidence and support they need, from when they are first told they may be having a premature baby, through those first crucial hours after birth to their baby’s first birthday. The DVD is split into 12 films each covering a different topic, which parents can select individually
depending on the support they need. Films include “First hours”, “Expressing breast milk”, “Holding your baby”. An information booklet is also included with the DVD in which parents can record their thoughts and feelings as well as their own baby’s progress.
As part of this work, Best Beginnings has created a unique network of over 400 neo-natal nurses, midwives, doctors and allied healthcare professionals who have become “Small Wonders Champions, across the UK. The Small Wonders Champions are working, often in multi-disciplinary teams, to ensure that the Small Wonders DVD is used effectively and is available to all parents in their hospital faced with the prospect – or unexpected arrival – of a premature or sick baby. In the last six weeks, Best Beginnings has sent out more 65,000 free DVDs to hospitals across the UK. Many of these hospitals have begun giving the DVD to parents from today, with other hospitals planning to begin distribution to parents in the next few weeks, once all staff has seen the DVD and a clear distribution plan is in place. Over the last year, Best Beginnings has been actively supporting its Small Wonders Champions to become “catalysts for change” in their hospitals and help them ensure that the DVD will be effectively implemented and available to all parents. In addition to being available for free in neonatal units across the UK the Small Wonders DVD is available to purchase for £5 from www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/.
The DVD itself was made with the support of over 100 families who provided feedback at key stages in the production process, as well as the expert opinion and advice from over 100 health professionals from across the UK including consultant neonatologists and representatives from six medical Royal Colleges.
Best Beginnings is a small charity committed to having a big impact on child health across the UK. You can find out more about their work and support them at www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/appeal/donate-for-child-health.
Small Wonders case study and mum of twins born at 28 weeks, Sinem, says: “I really believe this DVD will make a difference to people’s lives at a time when you feel so lonely, you feel so isolated… it will empower people and make that start as easy as possible in what is a really, really difficult time.”
The charity undertook extensive research with families themselves revealing how much parents will benefit from the Small Wonders DVD and change programme. Here are some quotes from parents who viewed “rough-cuts” of the DVD:
“I absolutely hate reading … and really struggled to plough through most of what we were handed. A DVD … would have been far more appealing, and I could have watched this whilst staying in hospital, in the small hours, as I was not sleeping anyway.” (Mother)
“I think it is a fantastic idea! I really do wish that we would have had this, it is a totally overwhelming, alien, scary experience to have a child in neonatal and to be given a DVD will help you with what to expect.” (Father)
“Just to know about all the tubes and equipment would have been so helpful – it’s all so scary when you see it for the first time.” (Mother)
“I had no idea about the importance of starting to express [breastmilk] within the first six hours. If I had known that, then maybe I could have breast fed. No one suggested it to me“I thought the section on Kangaroo care was excellent….. had these films been available to us, we would have felt more comfortable asking about it.” (Father)
“So you know you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.” (Mother)
In addition the DVD was piloted in 17 neonatal units in January 2012 and here are some quotes from parents involved.
“I found the films useful as I am in a similar situation to some of the parents and it gives a good idea of what to expect “ Mother
“informative and realistic” (Mother)