Transition to a New Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Positive Effects on Staff Working Environment and How the Physical Environment Facilitates Family-Centered Care

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Abstract

To optimize family-centered care and the staff working environment, the physical care environment should be designed to meet the needs of the infants, their families, and staff. It is important to evaluate the effects of a purpose-built neonatal ward on staff perceptions of job strain, the psychosocial climate, and the appropriateness of the physical environment. This study collected information from staff at a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), before and after the ward was relocated to a new NICU. Effects were measured using the following variables: job strain, person-centered climate and appropriateness-of-the-physical-environment questionnaires. Data were analyzed using repeated-measures generalized estimating equations and factor analysis. After staff began to work in the new NICU, their job strain significantly increased. At the 2-year follow-up, staff stress levels had returned to preintervention levels. Participating staff perceived the purpose-built neonatal ward as being a significantly more appropriate physical environment for family-centered care of the infants and their families. The staff also perceived the psychosocial climate of the new NICU as significantly more person-centered in terms of having a more homey, comfortable, and everyday ambience and thus experienced as being more supportive. An NICU built according to recommended standards optimized the physical care environment for family-centered care and increased the staff working climate.

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