Early homestay for premature babies gives the families a better and more calm beginning of family life whilst maintaining access to professional care from the hospital.
When a child is born prematurely, it is often hospitalised until the child can be breast or bottle-fed and gain weight without supplementary nutrition from a stomach tube. This usually happens around the original due date.
But at Odense University Hospital (OUH), the children can come home when they are stable and no longer need help to breathe or stay warm. Before going home, the parents are taught first aid, early signs of sickness in preterm infants and tube feeding. And they can always reach out to the neonatal department if they need help.
Coming home from the hospital early has positive consequences for the new families:
- The family is united with both parents and any older siblings (only mother and the newborn child are admitted to the hospital)
- It is calm and quiet and easier to sleep for both mother and child
- The parents feel a greater sense of ownership of the child and the role of parenting
- Chances of breastfeeding success increases
A BETTER SOLUTION PAYS OFF
Neonatal tele-homecare is not more expensive for the hospital than a traditional admission, and the expenses for technology and devices are counterbalanced by fewer in-hospital bed days.
When the children have fewer days in the hospital, children with the need for intensive care can use the beds instead.
The families are given an iPad to take with them home from the hospital. The iPad holds the app My Hospital which is connected with the electronic patient journal. The app contains information on care for a preterm infant and via the app, the parents can contact the hospital through text messages, pictures and video.
In the app, the parents enter weight and other data which the staff in the neonatal department can see. Furthermore, the family has video consultations with the nurses in the department.
The research project and the good results have resounded internationally, and OUH regularly receives enquiries from other hospitals in Europe and the rest of the world who wish to learn more about facilitating tele-homecare.
BACKGROUND FOR THE PROJECT
Neonatal tele-homecare is the result of a PhD project by nurse and PhD Kristina Garne Holm at the neonatal department H56 at HC Andersen Children’s Hospital at Odense University Hospital. The project ran from 2014 to 2017. When the research project finished, tele-homecare was immediately implemented.
The solution with tele-homecare was created with the use of participatory design where both parents, nurses and doctors were involved.
From the beginning of the project, the parents were eager to participate. The researchers hoped for 50 participants , but there were more than 90. And it is still as popular today.