Neonatal unit app connects parents with newborn babies

Hospital support charity funds development of software that captures missed moments when families cannot be present, delivering reassurance to parents’ remote devices.

James Hayes | 1st Jun 18
Image shows a nurse holding a tablet PC to capture images of a newborn baby that can then be sent to its parents when they are not visiting. The vCreate app, at King’s Mill Hospital, was developed with funding from Emily Harris Foundation.

Parents of babies that need to be cared for at King’s Mill Hospital’s neonatal unit are now able to watch their new-borns’ progress and share special moments, even if they can’t be at their bedside, with a new app that brings extra digital inclusion.

Called vCreate app, the free software will allow nursing staff on the hospital’s neonatal unit to record videos of the babies in their care on an Apple iPad and send them securely to parents’ smartphones and tablet PCs, for instance – parents can use any Internet-connected device to view videos of their baby.

Videos are uploaded to the parents’ own registered login account in the cloud. Once the baby has been discharged, and the video content downloaded, neonatal unit nurses delete its parents’ account so no data is stored for longer than it needs to be.

The vCreate app has been launched at the hospital with help from charity the Emily Harris Foundation. Its founders, Clare and Neil Harris, were keen to support the new technology to thank the unit for the support and care received for their first daughter Emily, who passed away at just five months old due to a heart condition.

The Emily Harris Foundation has supported the King’s Mill neonatal unit since 2008. It has over the last decade raised more than £100,000, which has contributed to the provision of a range of benefits for hundreds of new parents. They include bags filled with useful ‘goodies’, breastfeeding chairs, and bus tokens so that parents whose babies are on the neonatal unit can easily travel to and from to the hospital.

“It’s a lovely tool not only for parents, but for other family members too who cannot always be at the hospital,” said Sarah Roberts, Neonatal Nurse at King’s Mill Hospital.

“We understand just how difficult it can be to have a baby in hospital, especially when parents need to go home and rest, and cannot be with their baby all-hours. By being able to record the progress of their babies using vCreate we hope we can help to reassure parents and families of their baby’s wellbeing, and give them the reassurance they need when not with them.”

“We are delighted to be able to finance this digital initiative,” said Clare Harris, Founder of the Emily Harris Foundation. “As a charity our primary aim is to make life a little easier for families who find themselves in this highly stressful situation. The availability of vCreate will enable parents to both be reassured that their baby is OK when they cannot be there, and will also capture moments that would otherwise be missed by the family.”