Louise Gould, developmental care lead sister and new-born individualised developmental care and assessment programme professional, neonatal intensive care unit, St Michael’s Hospital, shares her unit’s experience of, and the benefits to families from, vCreate technology.
I heard about vCreate on the news when it was launched on a Glasgow neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I googled vCreate and contacted them to find out more about it. We had been looking at a video platform for parents to keep in contact, because as a regional level three unit, we often have families from long distances away. Often parents need to go back to work or return home to care for other children, so they are unable to see their babies regularly. We also have babies delivered due to maternal health reasons, with the mother being transferred to another hospital in our trust. Situations like these, families unable to be together adds a great deal of stress to what is already a very stressful situation.
Other systems that we had heard of filmed continuously, and we felt this could cause more stress to the parents. For example, what if they logged in and their baby was crying? Some NICUs were using facetime, which didn’t allow for protection of confidentiality in the room and again, could cause more upset if the parents saw their baby show signs of distress.
Ben Moore from vCreate attended a senior nursing team meeting to tell us about vCreate. It appeared to offer a system that was secure and allowed us to have control of what we shared with families. Our unit charity, Cots for Tots, were happy to fund the use of vCreate and also supplied iPads to make filming possible. Happily, the information governance side didn’t take too long and Ben worked with us to get vCreate agreed in time to launch on Christmas Day.
The use of vCreate has brought huge joy to our families. They can leave comments when they have watched a video. Some parents address them to their baby and others address them to us. The videos have supported mums expressing breastmilk. One mum commented on how lovely it was to wake for her night time expressing, to find a video of her son. Other families have said it has allowed them to share their videos with other family members who can’t visit due to distance or health. For some parents who have lost their babies, it has provided them with videos of their baby to keep.
During the winter months, we had to stop siblings from visiting their sisters or brothers due to the high risk of flu in the community and what that might mean for our babies. The videos allowed parents to share clips with their children, allowing them to feel included and aware of why their parents couldn’t be with them all the time.
We have been able to celebrate Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter with added animations that can play over the videos, sending personal messages to all the families signed up. We received wonderful feedback from families, sharing how lovely it was to be able to spend time with their other children guilt free because they knew that their baby was okay in hospital. Feedback from families also said how comforting it is to see that their baby is fine, rather than to be told over the phone.
Our unit, like many in the UK, is beginning to implement family integrated care. The vCreate platform will allow us to share educational videos with families who are signed up. For example, how to use the expressing pumps, how to check a feeding tube before giving a feed and how to read a baby’s cues. As a regional unit for specialist services we also hope to utilise vCreate with transfers of patients. Other units in our region are now looking at using vCreate and we will be able to transfer parents accounts between the units. This will mean we can show parents videos of the unit they are being transferred to, videos of their baby during transport and when they reach the unit.
Currently our transport team will text parents to inform them that their baby has been transferred safely. A video will offer much more comfort then a text.
Our staff have had a lot of fun videoing their patients, knowing that these videos will offer comfort to families. Two of our nurses were given the title of ‘vCreate NICU Superhero’ when parents nominated them via the vCreate parent newsletter. They received a certificate and rosette!
Ben Moore, the founder of vCreate is very passionate and supportive of the system. Ben and his team respond quickly to any concerns and resolve any problems quickly, although these have been minimal. Ben has worked hard to get governance approval from NHS Digital, since our launch, which means units can roll out the service more quickly and easily.