A new video sharing system is helping families with premature babies in hospital to stay in touch this Christmas.
If they can’t be by their baby’s side, staff in the neonatal unit at Singleton Hospital in Swansea will take a short video and upload it to their secure online account.
A text or email alert tells parents when a new video is ready to view, ensuring they don’t miss any milestones.
Consultant Neonatologist Dr Maha Mansour said: “It’s great that we’ve been able to launch the vCreate video system at this time of year.
“Christmas is a lovely time for families to be together and we are very conscious of the fact that a lot of our families can’t be together because their babies are here.
“Even if it’s for the grandpas and grandmas and aunties and uncles to get videos of their little babies around Christmas time, I’m sure it will warm a lot of hearts.”
Although still in its early days, vCreate has already provided valuable reassurance.
When daughter Catrin was born at 32 weeks at the end of November, parents Mike and Claire Mullett from Llanharan were worried about leaving her side, but have three other children at home who they needed to see.
“She has made leaps and bounds since then, but that night was the night we were umming and ahhing about whether to leave her,” said Claire.
“It showed us she was happy. It was nice to have it that night.
“They have been fantastic here, but it’s not like it’s down the road for us so it’s nice to have that contact.”
vCreate also allowed Mike’s parents and extended family, who live in Cardiff and were unable to travel to Swansea, a precious chance to see the new addition to their family.
When a baby is admitted to the unit parents are asked if they would like to register with vCreate.
They register online, but their account is only activated when staff on the unit confirm their identity, ensuring patient confidentiality.
A unique QR code is issued for their baby and attached to their cot. Staff scan this with the iPad before taking the video, ensuring the video is uploaded to the correct account.
Staff take short video clips as and when required. The process is quick, so does not interrupt care in any way.
Parents receive a text or email alert telling them a new video is ready to view.
The system is secure, with videos only accessible by password.
Parents are also able to share a special link with family members, which grants them 24 hours of access to the videos.
Dr Mansour said: “We are very passionate about family integrated care in Singleton and we are conscious of the fact that we don’t have room in the inn for all of the family to be here all of the time.
“Also, very many of our babies, because we are a tertiary referral unit, have families that come from miles and miles away. So the families could be in Aberystwyth, they could be in Pembrokeshire, they might have other children or babies and might find it very difficult to be here every day. Not to see your baby for that long is a huge problem.
“But also for the parents that just have to go home for the night and they live in Swansea. The mums are expressing milk every two to three hours overnight so they are awake, and very often they will phone to ask about their babies.
“If they are able to receive a video and see what their baby is actually doing in the middle of the night when they are not able to be here must be really rewarding.
“Anything that can allow our parents to feel more part of their baby’s life is beneficial for baby and parents.”
Jordan and Sion Morgan from Pontypridd have been at baby Harry Bear’s side every second they could since he was born.
Previously told they were not able to have children, they were overjoyed when they conceived.
But Jordan, 25, went into labour at the beginning of November, four months before Harry was due.
She was taken to Singleton Hospital by ambulance and Harry was born a few days later weighing just 1lb 7oz, less than a bag of sugar.
The first time Jordan left his side was to attend a ‘baby and me’ class. And, although it takes place within the hospital, she was worried. So staff sent her a video via vCreate to show her how he was doing.
Jordan said: “What we also love about it is our niece is like a second child to us, but she’s only eight and too young to come and visit Harry. Now we can send her the videos.”
Sion added: “I’ll be going back to work soon. At the moment I can be here as much as I want to be and as much as I need to be.
“But the vCreate gives me the videos while I’m in work, so at least I can still see him while I’m in work.”