New national initiative supports families with a premature or sick baby

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The 19th June 2012 sees the launch of a new national initiative 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