In this section, we discuss the role of veteran parents in all aspects of FICare programming, from committee membership, to peer-to-peer support, to participation in parent education group leadership.
Importance of Veteran Parents
Veteran parents play a valued role in all aspects of FICare. Veteran parents are those who have previously had an infant in a NICU and have participated in the FICare program. Understanding the patient experience of having an infant in the NICU is what has guided the development of the FICare model in the NICU, and should continue to guide the models adaptation to different environments and patient populations.
Veteran parents encourage new parents to bridge the gap between parents and NICU staff and take advantage of all elements of FICare. They may guide new parents in their role as caregiver, particularly in the early stages of their NICU stay. Veteran parents may also be important participants in both staff and parent education. In general, veteran parents should be well-known by staff and evaluated to ensure they are able to participate in supporting current NICU parents (parent education sessions, one-on-one support), committee work or staff education. They should complete appropriate training, and there should be a process and staff in place to support them in their role.
Veteran Parent Roles
Veteran parents collaborate with the entire team to ensure the smooth delivery of FICare. They bridge that gap between new parents and NICU staff, and encourage communication between the team.
Veteran parents are important leaders in the delivery of FICare. They help new parents develop confidence and skills in caring for their infant and provide leadership, particularly in the initial few days of the NICU stay.
Veteran parents pass on their knowledge and experience to new parents both informally and formally through the parent education sessions.
Veteran parents provide emotional support and practical advice from a voice of experience. They give new parents a unique perspective that no NICU staff member can provide.
Example from a FICare site
Being a veteran parent in FICare at Mount Sinai Hospital
- The veteran parents in our pilot study participated in the nurse and parent education sessions and were also available for “one-on-one” support at the bedside.
- The support offered is based on the parent’s experience of having an infant in the hospital and following discharge. The veteran parent buddy support does not replace the role of Social Work.
- Some veteran parents also participated in various activities to enhance peer-to-peer support i.e. lunch, crafts.
- Veteran parents were supported by hospital staff (social worker, parent support nurse) and checked in weekly to review any concerns, and to address issues that might have arisen.