Important psychological support for the parents of babies is being offered by one of the country's leading neonatal units, thanks to Sheffield Hospitals Charity donations. 

Fundraisers have paid for two part time psychologists to work alongside hospital health staff at the Jessop Wing’s Neonatal Unit (NNU), enhancing the care on offer to parents during what can be a stressful and emotional period in their lives. 

Dr Angela Marsh and Dr Jessica Lane say they are there to build on the already excellent level of support offered by the unit, as well as supporting the wellbeing of staff at the frontline of neonatal care.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Marsh, said: “Our roles have been created in response to the national drivers recommending that psychological care should be at the heart of all care given in neonatal services.

“It is widely acknowledged that families whose babies are admitted into a neonatal unit suffer stress and may experience significant trauma. Evidence also indicates that families whose babies are premature and need care on a neonatal unit are more vulnerable to anxiety, stress, difficulties bonding, or low mood.*

“Our role is to provide and facilitate psychological thinking and support to families. Neonatal staff have already done a great deal of work to embed family centred care into practice. We are here to help build upon this and expand the specialist psychological care that can be provided.”

Of the 7,000 babies born each year at the Jessop Wing, around 750  need the specialist care of the NNU. For these babies the first few days, and sometimes months, are critical, with them requiring 24-hour care.

The NICU at the Jessop Wing is one of the country’s leading facilities of its kind, with access to specialist equipment and staff expertise.

Donations to Sheffield Hospitals Charity helps to supports the Jessop Wing team in many different areas, including Psychologists, like Angela and Jessica to deliver the very best possible care to every family and to some of the region’s tiniest and most critically ill babies.

“Quite simply, there wouldn’t be a Neonatal Psychology Service without charitable donations. It has given us the opportunity to establish the psychology service within the NNU so that we can support existing work to make a family’s emotional wellbeing an integral part of their care.

“This role is truly innovative. Psychological care in the neonatal unit is a vital component of the care given to families of babies who are born early.  It is a time that can bring great joy, sadness, worry and strength - often all at the same time.

“Jessica and I feel very privileged that people share some of this with us. Our aim is to help them make sense of their experiences and support them through such an emotionally challenging time.”

“We have been encouraged to hear so many families’ spontaneous reports of how supportive the staff are here. We have a very strong base to build upon. We are also aware that, though rewarding, working on the neonatal unit can be very emotionally challenging for staff as well. 

“We want to support an environment where everyone is able to look after theirs and each other’s wellbeing. Our work therefore includes finding ways of supporting staff so that they can continue to provide outstanding care to babies and families.” 

To make a donation to support babies and their families at the Jessop Wing. visit, email [email protected] or phone 0114 226 7351.