One in eight babies born in the UK each year will need specialist neonatal care, that’s over 100,000 babies each year. Babies who are born early or sick can feel the effects of this difficult start throughout their lives, and with large numbers of babies needing specialist care it is essential for medical services to keep up with the needs of those most fragile.
Bliss was founded in 1979 by a group of concerned parents who discovered that no hospital had all the equipment it needed to safely care for premature and sick babies. Today they exist to give every baby born premature or sick in the UK the best chance of survival and quality of life.
They do this by empowering families with the knowledge and skills to care for their baby, supporting health professionals to deliver high-quality care, influencing policy and practice to represent the voices and interests of babies in care, and enabling life-changing research to improve the quality of life of premature and sick babies for generations to come.
What makes Bliss different
Bliss offers emotional and practical support to empower families and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to provide the best care to their baby. Bliss provide information about caring for premature and sick babies at every stage of their hospital journey, and after discharge. In 2017-18 Bliss distributed almost 95,000 information booklets to neonatal units across the country and had 279,355 information support page views on the Bliss website.
A crucial element to Bliss’ work is the emotional support they offer to parents through their volunteer services – both face-to-face, over the phone and email. Volunteers, known as Bliss Champions, are available on units as the vital link between parents, unit staff, and Bliss services, ensuring families of premature and sick babies have access to the information and support that they need. Around 83% of parents Bliss surveyed said that they received good support from Bliss Champions.
Supporting Health Professionals
Currently Bliss is working alongside more than 80% of neonatal units in the UK to help them raise their standard of care through the Bliss Baby Charter - an accreditation scheme to improve care for premature and sick babies on neonatal units. Improvements made at those units in 2017 to 2018 reached over 82,000 babies. In this time Bliss also trained 535 healthcare professionals in family-centred developmental care through their Family and Infant Neurodevelopmental Education (FINE) programme.
Campaigning for change
Bliss campaigns to ensure babies' voices are at the centre of decision-making. Through bold, evidence-based campaigns such as the “Bliss Baby Report 2015" they are able to highlight the issues affecting care for babies. For example, in July 2018 Bliss took an active role in ensuring the Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill was passed, meaning from 2020 parents will be entitled to two weeks paid bereavement leave if their baby dies.
Through their research, Bliss aim to make the biggest difference to the lives of babies by carefully identifying and funding research projects and collaborating with others to support large-scale projects. In the past year, Bliss supporters have kick-started the Bliss Neonatal Research Fund by donating over £10,000 to look at improving bonding between babies and parents, studying neurodevelopment, and the most effective ways of judging whether a baby is feeling pain. The first research project to receive funding from this grant will look at how to best manage and reduce pain for premature babies on the neonatal unit.
Other ways to support
Offer your support by becoming a volunteer.
Bliss says: "So much of what we do to support premature and sick babies and their families is made possible by our volunteers. By volunteering with us you will be joining a growing number of people across the UK who provide support on the helpline at Family Groups and on the neonatal unit - supporting families when they need it most.
“Our roles are designed to be flexible to fit around the time you have to give."
Find out more by clicking here
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