Pebbletree Ltd has paid a visit to its charity partner The Tiny Lives Trust.
Last week David and Mat from the company’s marketing department travelled to Newcastle upon Tyne to the RVI in the city centre, where Tiny Lives is based in Ward 35 – the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).
The RVI is a big place and after one or two wrong turns and help from hospital staff, we eventually arrived at where we needed to be just in time to meet Louise Carroll, Administrator/Fundraiser at Tiny Lives, and SCBU Matron Yve Collingwood.
Once on the ward it doesn’t take long to see why parents especially think so highly of Tiny Lives. The corridors are brightly decorated and the ambiance on the ward gives off pleasant vibes, despite the obvious seriousness associated with the purpose Tiny Lives serves – to care for sick and premature newborn babies, their mothers and families.
Louise and Yve started off our tour of the unit by taking us to the Red ward; the area where the most critical and sick babies are cared for. The Red ward is the one area of the whole unit where the severity of why you’re there hits you, and you can only begin to imagine what the parents of babies in this area are going through.
It was here we were shown some of the light comforting materials provided for babies, such as positioning aids, blankets and tiny hats – all of which serve the purpose of making sure the babies are as warm and comfortable as possible inside their incubators.
There are two other colour-schemed wards in the SCBU: Blue; where babies who have improved from critical but are not quite ready to move to the next area yet are cared for, and lastly Green; where babies whose health have improved and are almost ready to go home with their families are looked after.
Above the incubators in each coloured ward are large electronic ear-shaped noise level monitors. These ingenious ‘soundears’ attached to the walls give coloured indications within the ‘ear’ to inform staff when noise levels are too high and could subsequently interfere with a baby’s stress levels or sleep – neither of which are good for a baby’s development.
There are 34 babies being cared for in the SCBU at any given time, which is around 800 babies a year and 10% of all RVI maternity births. The reach of the SCBU is not just tied to the Newcastle area either, with babies from as far west as Carlisle and as far south as Teesside often brought to the unit for care.
Walking around the ward you sensed the closely-knit spirit of the staff, which was described to us as “like a family” – and that’s exactly how it felt. As Yve explained to us, regardless of whether you’re a nurse or a paediatrician, all staff are treat equally on the ward and on occasions such as Christmas the doctors are even prone to getting into the festive spirit by dressing up!
We were also able to see the masses of equipment a unit such as this needs to be able to provide the first-class care that it does, with whole rooms in some cases being used to store equipment ranging transfer incubators to temperature-controlling computers which monitor a baby’s temperature and make changes to the cooling fluid to ensure the baby’s temperature remains stable.
Around the corner from where the tour began and where the numerous awards the unit has won are hung on the walls, we came to an enormous stitched quilt made up of individual squares.
The squares are specially stitched and are taken up by parents as a thank you to Ward 35 and its staff, bearing customised messages such as their baby’s name, weight and duration of stay.
It speaks volumes of the phenomenal work carried out by everyone involved at the unit and Tiny Lives, further evidenced by the fact that many of the parents continue to keep in touch with Tiny Lives years and years later when their children are grown up.
There is so much more that Tiny Lives and the Neonatal Unit at the RVI do to even put in this article, so we urge you to visit their website at www.tinylives.org.uk and read for yourself more of the fantastic work they do.
In the meantime we would like to thank Louise and Yve for being kind enough to take the time to show us around the ward. Thanks to both of you!