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Sibling visiting the NICU


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Dear colleagues!

We are planning on easing our visiting police for siblings of NICU/NIMCU/Newborn patients. I'm wondering how do you handle sibling visits? Are there special visiting days/hours? Is there an age restriction? Are they allowed to just look through a window or get into the room and touch the little ones? Do they need to wear special attire if they want to touch the sibling? Do the siblings need any certificate of healthiness or do you have any requirements regarding vaccines? If you have a more loose policy: Have you experienced any outbreak of infectious diseases deriving from a sibling's visit?

Thank you in advance!

 

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Hi Natascha! We don't have a specific guideline but do allow siblings to visit, given they are well (no respiratory tract infections) and "old enough" as judged by parents. We have not seen (to my knowledge) RSV outbreaks or similar.

  • No special hours.
  • No formal age restriction.
  • Same hygiene restrictions apply to all (staff, family etc), but once cleaned and disinfected, siblings can touch.

In the early period (in incubator, lines, ventilatory support etc), we usually focus on the parents and avoid smaller children visiting but restrict to parents but once patients are in nursed in family rooms, we have a liberal view on siblings visiting. But they do not stay over night in the family room.

My experience is that sibling visits are uncomplicated, usually the siblings are setting the boundaries themselves, and never stay long enough to cause any friction or problems for anyone :)

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We have a similar approach, since we work in the same country it's reasonable. But I would also like to bring up the possibility we have to let the parents meet with the preterms sibling in an more relaxed setting, our play therapy unit we have for all children getting treated at the hospital, and also accessible to children whose parents are hospitalized.

By having a quite generous social security system, we have the benefit of letting the parents take a large responsibility for the care of the infant very early on. We expect many hours of skin-to skin therapy every day, from both parents, and they do most of the feeds and change diapers etcetera, while our staff are there to support them. Since both parents are engaged, there will be many hours away from the rest of the children at home, and just having the possibility to go away with the other child for som play time can be very comforting. So when visiting the hospital, while it's important to also meet the newborn, don't forget about other options for a meaningful time with the parents.

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In our NICU nearly the same criteria Gustaf & Stefan allready pointed out apply:

- visit by siblings possible - skin contact possible - same hygiene restrictions as staff and parents - mostly no visit in unstable conditions

On top, we request a full vaccination after STIKO recommendations and have a contact to the wards pediatrician directly befor the visit to be at least merely able to check the siblings actual condition :)

In addition to the preterms reference nurse, we tend to plan and accompany each visit by our family pedagogue. To make sure upcoming fears and worries can be directly taken care of.

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