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"Baby Steps to Home" Parent Education Course Team

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
PFAC Award Winners for 2017

Pictured here are just some of the members of the Children’s National Leadership team, Children’s National Board, the "Baby Steps to Home" NICU team, and PFAC Council.

From Left to Right: Jana Monaco (PFAC Advisor & former chair); TjaMeika Purnell-Davenport (PFAC Vice-Chair), Julianna DeBitetto (NICU RN), Blane Harner (NICU RN), Natalia Isaza (NICU Attending), Edie Mead (NICU Family Support), Lisa Zell (NICU RN), Carmen Blake (NICU RN), Kurt Newman (Children’s National President and CEO), Dawn Brittingham (Professional Practice Specialist RN), Nadia Fingal (NICU Shift Coordinator, RN), Michael Williams (Children’s National Board Chairman)

Patient and Family Advisory Council 2017 Award Winners

Adding a baby to your family is always an adjustment without any complications or obstacles, but imagine finding yourself and your newborn in an intensive care unit, with a lot of uncertainty around what the future holds, and anxiety about returning to your own home with a baby who needs extra care.

The Children’s National Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff frequently see how time spent on the unit can impact a family and their newborn, and know how leaving the NICU to return home can add to already existing anxiety. Keeping our patients and families in mind, the NICU staff have taken steps to minimize the uncertainty and fear of returning home after a newborn’s critical illness.

Commitment to Newborns and Their Families 

The “Baby Steps to Home” Parent Education Course team was created as a way to empower NICU baby parents with the knowledge and confidence to care for their newborn’s needs at home. The team developed two different in person classes for parents and family members to take before departing the NICU, and presented the class material to the NICU parent advisory council for their input and feedback. After incorporating the parents’ perspective, the “Baby Steps to Home” classes began in March 2017.

The first part of the class goes over “the arrival” and educates parents on what they can expect during their baby’s stay in the NICU. This includes the people responsible for their baby’s care and how they can become actively involved caregiving, the medical equipment they will encounter, how to participate in daily rounds, and more. The goal of this course is to support parents by giving them a stronger voice and open line of communication to the care team. By actively encouraging them to participate, parents are able to collaborate effectively with the NICU staff and providers and be a part of their baby’s treatment.

Giving Parents Compassion, Comfort and Resources They Need at Home 

In the second part of the classes offered, the “Baby Steps to Home” team works with parents as they near their discharge date from the NICU. As the family approaches this date, new fears and anxieties tend to arise, and this class aims to prepare parents for caring for their baby at home by demonstrating for example how to safely bathe and give medications to their baby. Additionally, the class provides information about medications, protecting the baby from infection, when to call a pediatrician, the importance of immunizations, car seat safety, safe sleep practices and much more. 

These classes, also offered in Spanish, are done in small groups several times a week at varying times to allow parents time to ask questions and have their concerns addressed. The nurses who have decided to teach these classes are committed to ensuring better outcomes for our NICU patients and reducing readmissions.

To date, the “Baby Steps to Home” team has educated almost 200 families through the program. By improving the patient and family experience during their stay at the NICU, the goal of the program is to expand these classes to other units and develop courses that will help their patients and families. This innovative course has been embraced by the health care community, and the team has been asked to present at two upcoming conferences.

Nursing director for the NICU, Tara Floyd, said “I remember when our current CNO, Linda Talley – who was then the NICU manager, and a small group of dedicated NICU staff first developed the Baby Steps to Home draft. At the time it was a paper infographic, long before the advent of the electronic health record, but we were so proud and knew it would help our NICU families. Ten years later and we are the top ranked NICU in the country, and the Baby Steps to Home program is the strongest it has ever been, thanks to these classes taught by the dedicated NICU staff members. Parents are the most important people in our NICU babies’ lives, and this program honors and strengthens that special bond in such a meaningful way.”

Congratulations to our “Baby Steps to Home” Parent Education team. It is your commitment and compassion for our tiniest patients and their families that has earned you the 2017 Patient and Family Advisory Council Award. Thank you for all you do to help Children’s National patients grow up stronger.