Did you know how we engage with families impacts how supported they feel?

In a 2019 article entitled Parents’ Experiences of Support In NICU Single-Family Rooms, Liu & Associates explored parental feelings of support and nonsupport in the single family room design of a Level III NICU in Canada.  We know that single family rooms can create lower noise levels, better lighting control, more privacy and improved attachment between parents and infants, but single family rooms also have disadvantages.  Parents report feelings of isolation, reduced interaction with families and staff, and impeded access to staff which can lead to increased parental stress.  A cohort of 15 parents were given smart phones downloaded with the HAPPY app (Handy Application to Promote Preterm infant happY-life) to record their feelings of support and nonsupport over a 48 hour period.  Results showed parents felt more supported when staff guided them through learning, provided hands-on coaching, and worked collaboratively with parents in learning.  They also reported feelings of support when staff provided positive feedback which promoted the parents’ morale and self-confidence.  Parents also appreciated staff presence and presentness.  Not only did parents feel supported when staff was present, but also when staff were attentive in the moment, dedicated uninterrupted time and attention was not divided.  Lastly, parents reported feeling supported when staff provided consistent care-giving practices.  Discrepancies in information and care increased parental stress and fostered distrust.


Whether single family rooms or open bay units, how we engage with the families in our care matters. Each and every Creative Therapy Consultants educational offering is full of practical, easily implementable caregiving practices and recommendations to truly incorporate family-integrated care in your NICU. Learn more about our continuing education opportunities here and how you can improve the Family-Centered care in your unit.

Liu, L., Mozafarinia, M., Axelin, A., Feeley, N. (2019). Parents’ Experiences of Support in NICU Single-Family Rooms. Neonatal Network, 38 (2), 88-97.