A mum from Banbury was among the first to trial a pioneering app helping parents watch their poorly newborn's progress at the John Radcliffe Hospital, even if they are not cotside.
The vCreate app allows nursing staff to record videos of babies in their care and was launched at the Oxford hospital yesterday, (Tuesday July 17).
Videos are sent securely to parents’ smartphones and tablets and, over time, a video diary builds up that can be downloaded and kept forever once the baby has been discharged.
Sara Deans, 31, jumped at the chance to pilot the app as her son Frazer weighed 1Ib 8oz (835g) after being born at 24 weeks and has been battling complicated medical issues at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit since April.
“As soon as I was told about the app I said it was a brilliant idea. It’s so nice that when I leave the unit, instead of ringing, I can physically see him," she said.
“The nurses are great. I went to the dentist recently and one of them had written a note saying ‘mummy be brave at the dentist today, love Frazer’. It was so cute.
“vCreate has been so beneficial and is so appreciated. I 100 percent recommend it.”
The six iPads were funded by Oxford Hospitals Charity at a cost of £2,000. The running costs of the software, funded by SSNAP (Support for Sick Newborn and their Parents), total £480 a month.
Senior clinical psychologist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Dr Jacinta Cordwell was motivated to introduce the system based on her own experiences of different systems available to nurseries and preschools.
“Being separated from your baby can be incredibly difficult for any parent, especially when your baby is sick or premature," she said.
“As a team we were keen to think of ways that we could bring families and their babies closer together.
“We hope that implementing this video messaging system will provide parents and families with some comfort and ongoing connection to their baby when they are otherwise not able to be by their cotside.”
Sarah Vaccari, from Oxford Hospitals Charity, said they were delighted to collaborate with the newborn care team and SSNAP to fund the project.
SSNAP charity director Emma Cantrell said: “SSNAP is committed to working closely with the Newborn Intensive Care Unit in our joint aim to enable families to spend more time with their baby and to reduce parents’ anxiety when they can't be physically present.
“Thanks to the generous donations of families who have gone before them we are very glad to be able to fund this fantastic app to help parents feel better connected to their baby when they can't be cotside.”
Ben Moore, founder of vCreate, added that his app's use at the John Radcliffe will provide a massive boost to worried parents who are not able to be in the unit 24/7.