Purpose for the Program
The national evaluation results of the March of Dimes NICU Family Support program revealed that neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) parents felt that the most comforting activity that could be offered in the NICU would be to hold their infants. Staff respondents also reported the benefits of Kangaroo care include reduced stress, enhanced comfort, and increased parent–infant bonding, but only 8% of staff reported routinely offering Kangaroo care to families. The March of Dimes developed the Close to Me intervention to increase the early onset and frequency of Kangaroo care in NICUs.
The Close to Me intervention includes parent education and awareness materials, staff education materials, and items of comfort and encouragement for families. This presentation will share the components of the Close to Me intervention as well as what was shown to be most effective in the evaluation.
Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation
Close to Me was unveiled in March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program sites nationwide. In 2011, a national evaluation of Close to Me was conducted in four NICU sites using an outside consultant who conducted staff focus groups and surveys preintervention and postintervention, parent surveys, and a special parent journaling technique. Results will be shared regarding the most effective components of Close to Me and the changes in parent and staff perceptions from preintervention to postintervention. We worked closely with a large team of NICU staff on adapting our materials for the full-term NICU infants and the full-term, well-baby audiences of professionals and parents. Key findings from this work also will be discussed.
Implications for Nursing Practice
Kangaroo care is a proven benefit to newborns and parents. Staff resistance to its implementation can be overcome with awareness, education, and hands-on instruction. Parents can learn to ask for and advocate for this activity if they know about it and its benefits early in their baby's hospitalization. Researching Kangaroo care by having parents maintain a journal is appealing to parents who have the opportunity to heal and process as they participate in the study. Kangaroo care can be vital to many if not all babies in the NICU, including full-term babies and those in the NICU for a short stay. The physiological, medical, and emotional benefits of Kangaroo care are worth the additional time required in educating staff and providing comforting space and opportunities for parents to Kangaroo care their infants.