4 May 2023

vCreate platform funded for neonatal unit

Amanda Jackson is a Senior Sister at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Southampton. This is the highest level of care for sick and premature babies, and specialises in cardiac, surgery, and neurological surgery.

1 in 13 babies in the UK are born preterm, and 1 in 3 babies are born premature, likely staying in hospital for up to three months.

The unit treats babies from the Wessex region, however we have treated babies as far away as Devon and Milton Keynes. When born, if your local hospital doesn’t provide the level of care that your baby needs, they will be transferred to a specialist NICU, such as that in Southampton.

vCreate is a web-based platform allowing staff at the hospital to share individual photos and videos of the babies to keep them connected with their families. This has been funded by Southampton Hospitals Charity since 2018.

Since that time, over 1,000 families have used the platform. Staff take around 800 videos a month, and now upload up to four photos a day. Their progress is shown as a diary of their stay, and once the babies leave the unit, the images can be downloaded and kept by the family.

A new feature also allows families to record a video of them reading a story to their little one, so when they can’t visit due to illness or conflicting schedules, they still know they are able to hear their voices.

It is crucial to share memories that the family might otherwise have missed and can soften the blow of having to leave the unit to get some rest, or to look after other family members. Most crucially, new mum’s have found it useful during the night when expressing milk to use vCreate to watch their baby, therefore improving their milk supply.

“Since Covid, the team in Southampton have really embraced vCreate. It is a positive way to communicate with parents, helping to reduce separation anxiety and stress, and enhancing emotional closeness with their baby. It has really helped parents on their journey of parenthood, especially for first time parents.

We strongly believe in the philosophy of family integrated care, and vCreate allows us to interact with whole family, particularly siblings who may not be able to visit.

It has made such a positive difference to families, especially those who travel long distances to the unit, those with other children and work commitments. It keeps them connected to their baby all day.

Our thanks to Southampton Hospitals Charity for making this possible for our parents.”

Parent feedback:

“It has been brilliant, especially though the night when we are home and I wake up to express milk. Having the ability to check for photos and videos to see how my little is doing has been great. It has been such a comfort to see how she is doing.”

“Having three other little ones at home, it hasn’t always been easy to get long visits, so vCreate has been a god send. When our baby was first brought in, she was very poorly, so vCreate was a real comfort blanket for us.”

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