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Parents of premature babies get confidence boost from home-from-hospital project

Press release issued: 11 March 2016

Researchers from the University of Bristol have found new parents benefit from help to prepare them to bring their premature babies home from hospital.

A team led by Professor Peter Fleming and Dr Jenny Ingram, from the School of Social and Community Medicine, examined the effects of a parent-orientated discharge planning process, known as the Train-to Home intervention.

The project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme, and published its results today in The BMJOpen.

 More than 90 per cent of babies born at 27 weeks or more gestation survive, and are later discharged home. Many will have stayed in neonatal intensive care and in high dependency and special care units.

 Many parents returning home feel unprepared and lack the confidence to care for their baby. They often find themselves seeking emergency and out-of-hours care.

 The Train-to-Home aimed to increase parents’ confidence in caring for their baby, thereby reducing hospital stay and lessening the use of healthcare services after discharge. It estimates the baby’s likely discharge date, and displays it on a train graphic with five labelled carriages – breathing, feeding, growth, temperature and sleeping.

 Parents were given gestation-specific leaflets with questions to discuss with staff based on the five labels, to help improve their preparedness for returning home.

 Professor Fleming said: “Any increase in parental confidence to care for their baby could reduce their length of stay in hospital and possibly reduce healthcare resource use after discharge, making potentially significant healthcare savings. Our research shows that Train-to-Home can contribute to family-centred care.”

 The researchers recruited parents of babies born between 27 and 33 weeks from four neonatal units in South West England. They found parents who received the intervention understood their baby’s needs better and there were fewer visits to emergency departments after going home. As a consequence, the costs of care after discharge from hospital were reduced.

Paper: ‘Does family-centred neonatal discharge planning reduce healthcare usage? A before and after study in South West England’ by Ingram et al in The BMJ Open 

Further information

1. The National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme was established to fund a broad range of research. It builds on the strengths and contributions of two NIHR research programmes: the Health Services Research (HSR) programme and the Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme, which merged in January 2012. The programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS. The HS&DR Programme is funded by the NIHR with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

2. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (

This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.


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