On the Ward

Whether you’re on the Ward for hours, days or months, you’ll find support from us

Cuski Miniboos

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.

Developmental Care Aids

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.

Specialist Staff Posts

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:

  • A Clinical Psychologist
  • A Family Support Social Worker
  • Allied Health Professionals, including:
  • Neonatal Physiotherapists
  • Dieticians
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists


Room Refurbishments

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.

vCreate Video Messaging

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.

Tiny Lives Financial Assistance Fund

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 Workers, Fiona or Julie, to access this fund. If you’d like to speak to Fiona, please contact us and we can put you in touch.

Medical Equipment

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:

  • A new Ultrasound Scanner: with improved images and the ability to take ‘cot-side’ images rather than moving babies unnecessarily.
  • A Transport Incubator: used to safely transfer premature and sick babies between the RVI and other hospitals in the Northern Neonatal Network area.
  • A SIM Baby medical training aid: an infant patient simulator that allows staff to practice responding to a wide range of scenarios in a safe environment.


Environmental Improvements

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.

Breast Milk Storage

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.

Books for Babies and Parent’s Library

We fund 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. Reading to a baby allows the baby to hear the parent voice which is not only familiar but comforting. It can reduce stress in babies (vital for their development) and parents.

Ward 35 Coffee Mornings

Coffee Mornings are held by Tiny Lives Staff every Wednesday morning (10:00 – 12:00), 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.


Parent Refreshments

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 worked with the trust to ensure parents have meals and snacks available at all times.

Support Groups

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:

Special Occasion Cards

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!

Tumble Dryer

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.

Keepsake Boxes

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.

Ward Silver Cross Pram

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.


Sling Library Pilot

We’re proud fund a Sling Library  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.

We Welcome Ideas

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 info@tinylives.org.uk.