In this section, we discuss why staff education and support is important to the success of FICare, and we provide sample lesson plans and adult education strategies.
Importance of Staff Education and Support
The first pillar underpinning the model of FICare is to provide staff with the skills that enable them to educate, mentor and support parents in caring for their infant in the NICU. All NICU staff play a role in the successful implementation of FICare and require education in the model. However, as the primary interface between NICU staff and families, nurses are the main facilitators of FICare. As such, nursing staff receive the bulk of the education and training necessary to help them support parents in their roles as caregivers.
NICU staff are experts in the care of sick infants. FICare education and support provides an opportunity for staff to better understand the important role the family plays in the baby’s life so they can promote and support the integration of families from their initial arrival to the unit through to the discharge of the baby and transition to home.
The nursing education for FICare focuses on empowering nurses to be educators, mentors and counsellors for parents. Excellent communication skills in addition to excellent nursing skills are needed to provide bedside teaching to parents. Providing opportunities for nursing staff to discuss their feelings, concerns and experiences with families is an important part of their ongoing support and FICare educational opportunities.
Nursing education can be delivered in many different ways, from small-group education sessions and huddles to workshops or on-line modules. Small group sessions provide staff an opportunity to explore any challenges that they have experienced communicating with families and to share their unspoken fears about FICare. Such sharing is an important part of the FICare education program and allows staff to both develop skills and to gain perspective of their role. Involving veteran parents in staff education is a powerful way of providing feedback to the staff on the impact of their interactions with families.
The Nurse 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 may have readily available. Building your own tailored nurse education plan based on your unit’s needs, will take some time in planning and preparation – use the team of experts and resources you already have on hand.
Example from a FICare site
The Structure of the Staff Education and Support Program at Mount Sinai Hospital
Our program was developed by an education committee comprised of veteran parent volunteers, the parent resource nurse, a lactation consultant, staff nurse, the study coordinator, neonatologist and a social worker.
The Education and Support Program
Staff education consisted of a 4-hour course which ran over multiple times over 3 weeks to accommodate all staff. The primary aim was to ensure that staff received information regarding their role in Family Integrated Care, and to provide them with the tools needed to support families that would lead to independent parenting in preparation for discharge. Veteran parents were involved in the workshop and in ongoing staff education.