Aim We sought to assess whether the implementation of a baby diary as a communication tool would improve parent-staff communication and optimise the parental experience of neonatal care.
Methods In this study, parents and carers of babies on our unit were invited to complete questionnaires to assess their level of satisfaction with communication by neonatal staff before and after the implementation of individual baby diaries. The questionnaires incorporated the Department of Health and NICE quality standards for specialist neonatal care.
The diary acts as a tool to aid communication and complements face to face communication. Doctors and nurses write daily updates in the diary about the baby’s progress and well being and parents have space to write notes, questions or concerns.
The initial questionnaire was in two parts: a retrospective parental satisfaction questionnaire given out on the day of discharge (n=44, response rate 57%) and a weekly spot questionnaire to gather a ‘point-in-time’ picture of parental views on communication (n = 39, response rate 53%).
Following implementation of the diary, a weekly parental questionnaire (n = 17, response rate 23%) was repeated to gather views on its impact.
Results More parents in the post-intervention cohort felt they were receiving regular communication from staff (94%) and felt that their questions and concerns were being addressed (100%) than in the pre-intervention cohort (77% and 91% respectively). In addition, 100% of parents said they liked reading the diary and 94% felt it added to their understanding of how their baby was doing.
Conclusion Alleviating the emotional burden on parents who have a baby admitted to a neonatal unit requires frequent and sensitive communication from neonatal staff. Good communication empowers and involves parents and is essential in providing family centred care. Improving the quality and quantity of communication is proven to benefit the baby’s care, promotes positive parent-child interaction and improves overall family well-being and satisfaction. We were able to greatly impact parental satisfaction and provide family centred care by implementing a simple, practical and cost-effective tool to enhance communication between parents and staff. This project has been accepted by the Bliss Charity into their Best Practice Bank and is currently being trialled in other hospitals.