The Neonatal Unit is funded for 13 cots- 2 Intensive care (level 1), 2 high dependency (level 2) and 9 special care (level 3). The unit is staffed by neonatal nurses, Medical staff, Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioners and Allied Health Professionals, including a Developmental physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Dietician and a Speech and Language Therapist. A Consultant Paediatrician is on call 24/7.
The unit cares for babies born above 27 weeks (28 weeks for twins) and for sick babies who require support. If a mother is in labour, below 27 weeks she may be transferred, if safe to do so, to the Regional Neonatal Intensive care Unit, Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Belfast Trust. Inutero transfer may also be required if there are no cots available at the Ulster Hospital. Babies need to be born in the right cot, the right place and at the right time.
The Neonatal Unit, Ulster Hospital works as part of the Northern Ireland Neonatal Network and babies may be transferred between units, to facilitate families being closer to home or to make a cot available for a preterm delivery.
The unit has a philosophy of Family Integrated Care, where parents are not seen as visitors. We run a Parents in Partnership Programme, where parents are involved in their baby’s care from admission to discharge. There are 2 bedrooms available for rooming in/overnight stay if baby is unwell or is receiving palliative care. There is also a parent’s sitting room, where coffee and snacks are available. Each cot space has a recliner to allow parents to nurse their baby and provide skin to skin. Car parking vouchers and meal vouchers are available.
We have a Neonatal Breast feeding Lead who is here to support families on their neonatal breastfeeding journey. All neonatal staff are trained to support breastfeeding and we are working towards UNICEF Neonatal breastfeeding standards.
Neonatal staff also rotate to support Transitional care, on the postnatal ward. This is a service that allows babies to stay with their mothers, even when they require a little support, including being over 34 weeks preterm, feeding issues, phototherapy or intra venous antibiotics.
Parents are not seen as visitors- they are their baby’s carer and are welcome at all times. Parents are asked to be part of Nursing handover and Medical Ward round. They may be asked to wear earphones during the ward round to provide confidentiality to other babies.
Parents may be asked to wait outside for a short time if a baby requires emergency care.
Virtual visiting is always available, via an Ipad.
During non COVID times grandparents and siblings are encouraged to visit. We have a “Solar Sibling “project where brothers and sisters are part of a supported visiting time.
Grandparents may visit during non COVID times to support parents. The only time they are asked to step out of unit is during nursing handover and medical ward round, to provide confidentiality.