In this section, we discuss ways in which FICare parents are involved in the care of their child in the NICU, and how best to prepare parents for their involvement.
Importance of Parent Education
Parent education goes hand-in-hand with all other aspects of parental involvement in the care of their infant. A comprehensive parent education program is necessary to provide parents with the skills and tools they need to confidently and safely care for their infant in the NICU and beyond.
Parent education can be delivered through many facets, from well-planned small-group education sessions to impromptu one-on-one training at the bedside. Teaching parents what they do not know helps provide parents with the confidence they require to become fully active team members.
Parent education sessions, particularly when provided in a small group setting, offer parents an opportunity to learn both from the educator and from each other. In addition parents can talk candidly about challenges they experience in the NICU, including baby blues, postpartum depression, previous losses, and self-care. Through these sessions, parents may share their unspoken fears, have their feelings validated, and gain perspective of being a parent to an infant in the NICU. Veteran parents may co-lead some of these education sessions with another staff member or may just participate as a support.
The Parent Education Toolkit provides a variety of lesson plans which can be used as is or adapted to your particular unit. The lessons do not all have to be implemented at once; we recommend you start small and use resources you already have available. Building your own tailored parent education plan will take some time in planning and preparation – use the team of experts you already have on hand. Be sure to be well prepared for each teaching session as this will help ensure the smooth implementation of the plan.
Parent Participation on Rounds
Parent participation on rounds is another opportunity for parent education and information sharing. Parents of an infant in the NICU are often bystanders at medical rounds, and feel intimidated by the care team. Under the FICare model, parents are active, involved participants in medical rounds, both offering and receiving information. They are encouraged to ask questions, are provided with explanations of medical terminology, and are considered important providers of the details of their infants’ daily progress to medical staff. The toolkit provides video examples of how to conduct medical rounds under the FICare model, along with parent testimonials.
“I’ve loved being in the [FICare] project, being able to do rounds is one thing that I have liked the most and having the doctors and residents actually really listening to what you have to say.” – FICare parent