Medics treating infants at a Scottish hospital are using video technology in a new scheme helping parents keep in touch with their babies.
Staff are able to send short films of their patients to parents when they are away from the hospital.
The initiative is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK and it is being trialled at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
Parents say the video clips offer reassurance about their children.
Around 600 babies are treated on the hospital’s neonatal unit each year – it is the largest of its kind in Scotland.
But many parents are unable to remain with their infants around the clock.
The video technology initiative was developed by medics keen to involve families more in patient care.
Dr Neil Patel, a neonatologist, said the idea was suggested by a parent whose baby was being cared for on the ward.
“He told us how, in his own work, they used short videos to feedback to customers and he said it would be great if you could do that and send me a message about my baby, especially when I can’t be in the unit.”
Dr Patel believes it is the first initiative of its kind in the UK. Similar schemes using video streaming presented “challenges”, he said.
“Short message we think is a really effective way to give parents an update on their baby but in some ways to draw them into the care of their baby as well,” he added.
“We’ve already had interest from other centres to use the system for the babies they look after as well – in Scotland and also in other parts of the UK.”
‘Support the families’
Senior staff nurse Emma Gallagher has been taking part in the pilot, using a tablet to record short clips and send secure updates to parents.
She said: “It’s great. When we find a good moment where we can video a baby, we just take that opportunity.
“Sometimes things happen at night-time that the parents don’t always see so it’s nice to capture a little video to show them what their baby is up to while they’re maybe sleeping or not able to make it up.
“It doesn’t take up any extra time because we wouldn’t do it if we were really busy and it’s something that we’re all very excited about and interested in. We want to support the families.”
Baby Sophie has spent the first six weeks of her life at the Glasgow hospital but her parents, Sarah and Jack, live half an hour away and cannot always be there.
Jack said waiting for phone calls from the ward made them anxious and distressed but the new video scheme offered them reassurance.
He said: “It was really nice, really reassuring. It meant we could be here without actually being here.
“It’s nice to have a little memory, it’s much nicer than a phone call. It’s nice to just have a little memento.
“We’ll download them all at the end and we’ll have a video log of her whole hospital experience which will be nice to show her in years to come.”