Whether you’re on the Ward for hours, days or months, you’ll find support from us
Cuski Miniboos are small cloth comforters, designed to help soothe a baby and encourage bonding between parent and baby. The Miniboo is placed into Mam (or Dad’s) top, and then placed into the incubator so that the baby can smell their parent. This is so important when babies cannot be held, allowing a safe and effective way to bond, as well as stimulating breast milk production.
We fund a range of Developmental Care Aids that help babies with a range of issues, helping to make sure they are comfortable and helping to prevent further healthcare issues. These include Claire’s Nests (snug, womb-like ‘beds’ for each baby, aiding positioning and helping them to feel secure), as well as other positioning aids such as Freddy Frogs, gel pillows and Bertie Beanbags.
We work with external partners, including the NHS Trust and Newcastle City Council, to fund or part-fund specialist staff positions on the RVI Neonatal Unit. This ensures that babies and families on the Unit can receive an extra-special level of care and support. Our current funded or part-funded staff posts include:
We have worked with staff on the Unit to fund or part-fund the refurbishment of several areas on Ward 35, including the Family Room (including an area for siblings), Parent’s Coffee Room and the Breastfeeding Room. In the past we have also refurbed the Parent Flats in the Unit (where parents stay just before going home, to get used to caring for their baby independently), and have provided storage lockers on the Unit for parents.
We fund the innovative vCreate Video Messaging service on the Neonatal Unit, which allows for staff to share videos of babies with their parents, helping them to bond even when they can’t physically be together. We also supply iPads and accessories to the Unit to facilitate this system.
Money worries can be a common concern for families on the Neonatal Unit. To assist with this, we have a fund that can help families in need with essential expenses. Families are encouraged to speak to the Tiny Lives Family Support Social Worker, Fiona, to access this fund. If you’d like to speak to Fiona, please contact us and we can put you in touch.
Occasionally, we will fund additional medical equipment that cannot be provided by the Trust, but that staff on the Ward think would be beneficial to babies and staff on the Unit. In the past this has included:
To enhance the environment within the Neonatal Unit, we fund incubator covers and noise monitors. The covers offer privacy to the babies, allowing them to be covered in a busy room, and also promote a dark, cosy environment. This is soothing for babies born prematurely and also helps to protect their sensitive eyes. We also provide phototherapy incubator covers, which are used to treat jaundice. The noise monitors light up red if too much noise is detected, encouraging a quiet, calm environment for the babies to rest and heal in. We have also funded reclining chairs for the Ward, after parent feedback that they were struggling to sit comfortably and practise skin-to-skin in the previous chairs.
Funded with a generous donation from our corporate supporters at Kavli, the Milk Bank is a developing project, encompassing new, heavy-duty fridge and freezers for breast milk storage on the Neonatal Unit, plus ventilation units to support this equipment. This project also includes a one-year pilot programme of a milk bank facility, where donor human breast milk can be stored and donated to babies in need.
We fund a selection of reading books on the Unit that parents can read to their babies. This is an hugely valuable form of bonding between parent and baby, especially when baby can’t be held. We also fund a reference library for parents, which is full of non-fiction books about the Neonatal experience.
Coffee Mornings are held by Tiny Lives Staff every Wednesday Morning (11am – 1pm), in the Ward 35 Family Room. It’s an informal chance to meet the Tiny Lives team for a chat, cuppa and slice of something delicious. An amazing cake is donated each week by Geordie Bakers, just for this occasion!
Due to the current circumstances, Coffee Mornings are currently on hold, but we hope to have them running very soon.
When on the Neonatal Unit at all hours of the day, options for meals and snacks can be limited and expensive, especially if parents are there for a long period. With this in mind, we have funded a selection of easy and quick snacks for parents to grab at any time, as well as a microwave and toaster.
We offer various levels of assistance to the support groups that work with the Neonatal Unit, depending on need. For all groups we fund refreshments for the attendees, and for others we may fund training, spaces for events, craft materials, new toys or marketing materials – we’re always open to ideas. Currently, we support:
Little gestures can make a huge difference on the Unit. With this in mind, we fund materials for Lesley (a member of staff on the Unit) to handmake adorable cards for a range of occasions. They always bring a smile to parents!
Often, the charity will fund ad-hoc items of equipment on the Unit, such as a tumble dryer. When the old machine broke, it was important to have a replacement to make sure that the babies on the Unit could have hygenic and comforting fresh laundry, including muslins, quilts, clothes and Developmental Care Aids such as Claire’s Nests.
Every family gets a keepsake box to remember their baby’s time on the Unit. They can fill it with whatever they choose, but parents often choose to include their baby’s Miniboo (once they’re grown out of it!), first outfit, a tiny dummy and their hospital admission band. Once their child is old enough to understand their special start to life, the boxes are a great way to explain to how they came into the world.
On the suggestion of the Ward 35 team, we funded a Silvercross Pram for use on the Neonatal Unit. This pram is used for transporting more stable babies around the hospital for appointments (such as MRI scans) in comfort. The storage rack at the bottom of the pram helps to transfer oxygen tanks, monitors and other useful equipment.
As of January 2021, we’re proud to have funded a new Sling Library Pilot on the Neonatal Unit! By suppling slings and weighted dolls, parents can try out a sling and learn how best to wear it to support their baby – with the help of the Physio team – before trialling a sling on loan for up to 8 weeks. We hope to empower Ward 35 parents to use a sling with their baby, encouraging bonding between the two. If you’re on the Ward and would like to try out a sling, please ask your Nurse to contact one of the Physio team.
This list is constantly growing to meet the developing needs of the Neonatal Unit. If you have an idea for something that would have helped you or someone you know on the Unit, we’d love to hear it. Please email email@example.com.