Collaborating for Family-Centered Care: Integrating Child Life Specialists in the Prenatal Setting
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2013
© 2013 AWHONN, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing
Special Issue: 2013 Convention Proceedings
Volume 42, Issue s1, page S49, June 2013
How to Cite
Tucker, J. A. and McCann, L. H. (2013), Collaborating for Family-Centered Care: Integrating Child Life Specialists in the Prenatal Setting. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 42: S49. doi: 10.1111/1552-6909.12121
- Issue published online: 11 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 11 JUN 2013
- psychosocial care;
- family-centered care;
- patient-centered care;
- high-risk obstetrics
Purpose for the Program
Le Bonheur Fetal Center opened in September 2009 to provide comprehensive care for women who had received a prenatal diagnosis of a congenital anomaly. After a generic request for child life staff to supervise the children of expectant mothers during their mother's ultrasound examinations, the child life team saw the need for more specialized psychosocial services for the expectant family. A certified child life specialist with prior experience in program development was assigned to the fetal center to assess the needs and initiate services.
To more closely examine the psychosocial care provided to this population and ways in which all the disciplines could be utilized to provide support as needed for each unique family.
Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation
We discuss collaboration that begins in the fetal center during obstetric visits, moves into labor and delivery at the nearby adult facility, and then follows with entry into the pediatric hospital. During this journey, families trust that all team members are working together to care for their child. To assist in the multiple transitions, child life specialists, in collaboration with nurses, aim to support the expectant family by providing preparation, emotional support, sibling preparation, parental coaching, and bereavement support when necessary. Success is totally reliant upon ongoing communication between all team members and the desire to always do what is best for that family in their unique situation.
The literature reveals that a prenatal diagnosis results in anxiety, grief, and uncertainty for the entire family. Whether a prenatal diagnosis is relatively minor or a lethal anomaly, ongoing multidisciplinary collaboration allows for individualized care and best practice to be provided for this population. Case studies will illustrate this collaboration.
Implications for Nursing Practice
Though nurses and child life specialists have worked closely to develop the communication and collaboration needed to successfully meet the psychosocial care of these patients, all specialties can gain further understanding and respect for the need for psychosocial care in the medical treatment of any population. It should be encouraged to consider if all the disciplines within an institution are being used to their best potential in collaborative efforts to provide patient- and family-centered care. Though high-risk obstetrics is not a population found in every healthcare setting and child life specialists are not staffed in every institution, the lessons learned from collaboration and communication in patient- and family-centered care can be benefited by all healthcare providers.