There is concern among parents of premature babies when they are told that that they will be discharged home from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), because there is not a discharge process in place that helps to decrease stress when the parents are at home with a sick baby. The parents of the premature babies are the ones that are affected by not having a transition program that helps them get back in the community to function with a baby that may require more care had the baby been born full term.
The implication of the current practice is seeing parents of premature babies suffer from depression and anxiety because of the level of stress that they encounter. When parents are in the NICU, there is stress from the roller coaster of whether the baby will survive. Once the baby gets to a point of survival, then the planning phase of going home starts. If the baby goes home with tube feedings, oxygen or a tracheostomy and monitors, this causes a lot of family changes. One parent leaves their job to care for the baby, there is concerns when home care nurses are supposed to make a visit and they do not show up; this causes an unsafe environment because the only parent than can take care of them as a relief is at work. This will cause the parent that is not working to have the greater bulk of the care and have an all-night watch which is both dangerous to the parent and the baby.
The nurse, doctor, occupational therapist, child life specialist and a nurse educator or consultant should be a part of the multidisciplinary team that should be working with the families in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The key supporter should be the nurse that sees the baby daily because she will be the one that sees the family and gets to know them and the baby.
The parents of premature babies want a step by step explanation with demonstrations and written instructions this way they could pick up the brochure anytime for reference (Ronan et al., 2015). In one study, the downfall was that they used full term infants without medical problems, this may be good for a DVD purpose for filming, however to be realistic in how an infant would react at home, the researcher should have used premature babies at different gestational ages. It would be beneficial to have had the researcher use premature babies with different medical conditions and equipment such as oxygen, tracheostomy, tube feedings, and monitors to determine if the provided material would be beneficial. More research is needed to be able to determine the best care for NICU families transitioning back to the community.
Ronan, S., Liberatos, P., Weingarten, S., Wells, P., Garry, J., O’Brien, K., … Nevid, T. (2015, March/April). . Neonatal Network, 34(2), . http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/0730-0822.214.171.124