In the NNU, infants are physically separated from their parents and this often has an impact on the physical, psychological, emotional health of both the parents and the infants. Family Centered Care is an approach to planning and delivery of health care that encourages greater parent involvement in their infants care. In regular neonatal care parents generally remain relegated to a supportive role, and the majority of care for the infant is provided by hospital professionals.
The Family Integrated Care (FICare) model is an extension of the principles of Family Centered Care. It is an actionable model by which parents are true partners in their infant’s care, even when in the NNU. This model was developed by a healthcare team that included parents who had previously been in the NNU (veteran parents). Integrating parents into the care team in Family Integrated Care goes well beyond merely allowing parents to be present and observe their infant’s care.
The goal of FICare is to facilitate a partnership and collaboration between parents and the NNU staff, to promote parent-infant interactions, and to build parent confidence. This is achieved by information sharing between staff and parents and by parent participation in their infant’s care. Under the FICare model, parents are taught to be involved in all possible aspects of their infant’s care (e.g., feeding, nappy changes, bathing, providing oral medications), tracking growth and progress, decision-making, and taking part in medical rounds. Parental involvement in rounds supports parents in their partnership with the care team, helps them understand and participate in care decisions, and helps to strengthen relationships with the medical team. Parents are provided with support and education to provide care for their infant and grow into their roles as care providers for their infants. This builds confidence in caring for their baby and shortens the length of stay in hospital.