Redeveloped maternity unit delivers better care for babies and parents

Royal Surrey’s Maternity Unit has received an exciting and innovative transformation to improve care for women and babies and reduce trauma by giving parents the chance to stay close to their sick or premature baby 24 hours a day.

The maternity unit’s £4million makeover delivers two major improvements in patient experience. The refurbishment of the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) welcomes the arrival of ten dedicated bays where a parent can sleep next to their premature baby’s incubator, while the completion of a second obstetric theatre gives extra capacity and a welcoming setting for women having elective caesareans.

Royal Surrey’s SCBU is one of the first in the UK to offer parents the chance to stay by their baby’s side and be more involved in their care for their entire hospital stay. Studies show that this option brings enormous benefits, reducing distress for both parents and babies. It also encourages bonding, builds parents’ confidence in their ability to care for their baby and helps establish breastfeeding.

In the days before a baby is ready to leave SCBU, parents can move into the SCBU’s family room so they can practise caring for their baby independently while staff are on hand to offer help if needed.

The addition of a state-of-the-art obstetric theatre is part of the Trust’s ongoing aim to improve patient safety and experience. Both the new theatre and its recovery room put parents welcoming their baby into the world at the heart of their design with attractive and calming decor.

The redevelopment of the SCBU with facilities for parents to stay by their baby’s side was achieved partly by help from a hugely popular ‘Closer to Care’ fundraising campaign organised by the hospital’s Royal Surrey Charity. The charity raised over £500,000 over approximately 18 months towards the refurbishment.

Parents of premature and sick babies who had been cared for by Royal Surrey’s SCBU, rallied together and held a range of fantastic fundraising events to help with the cost, including charity balls, bike rides, 24-hour spin-a-thons and more.

Sadie Elford and her husband Rob, together with friends and family, raised £14,000 towards refurbishing the SCBU after their daughter Sienna was born prematurely.

Sadie said: “Our daughter Sienna was born 5 weeks early, weighing just 3 pounds, and so she needed to spend some time in the SCBU. The care and love both Sienna and we as her parents received while in the unit was truly amazing.

“When we found out that the hospital was raising funds to rebuild the unit to include space for beds for mums to be able to stay with their babies, we knew we had to help. This was the hardest thing for me – leaving Sienna was like leaving a piece of my heart behind. So, we organised an 8 hour spin session and alongside some awesome friends and family, raised £14,000 to help.

“I know having the facilities for a parent to stay by their baby overnight will make such a huge difference to families who require the care from the unit in the future.”

Amy Stubbs, Deputy Director of Midwifery and Divisional Head of Nursing for Women and Children, said:  “SCBU staff understand what a terrifying emotional rollercoaster parents are experiencing in the first few days, weeks and months after the birth of their poorly or premature baby and how normal life is suddenly put on hold.

“By giving parents the chance to stay close to their baby 24/7, hold them and care for them with guidance from staff, we know we can lessen the distress and worry for everyone.

“Parents get a better chance of being able to bond with their baby, there’s more opportunity to establish breastfeeding and a better recovery rate for babies. We can also help build mum and dad’s confidence about caring for their little one’s needs, which can be very daunting when a premature or sick baby is in an incubator attached to lots of wires and tubes.”

Mobolade Smith, mum to Kiki, 4 weeks old, said: “I’m so grateful to the amazing staff on SCBU, everyone was so kind and reassuring when Kiki was born at 32 weeks. It was a very overwhelming and tearful time; unexpectedly having her early. Spending nights at SCBU made me feel more like a mum. The staff were encouraging and incredibly positive. They showed me how to look after Kiki by giving her skin-to-skin cuddles and they helped me not feel scared about picking her up.

“I stayed by Kiki’s side for ten days before we brought her home and having that chance made a massive difference to my confidence. I could see her gaining weight and getting stronger and I had support with breastfeeding, which was so important to me. I’m forever grateful to all the lovely staff who looked after us, thank you so much!”

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