Siirry sisältöön

 Close Collaboration with the Parents


 BioCity Frontiers of Science seminar 7.4. and ​Close Collaboration with Parents seminar 8.4.2016:

“The experience of being born and the onsets of bonding”

Professor Jeffrey Alberts from Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA


 Close Collaboration with the Parents

  • Parents
  • Training
  • Research

​Family-centered intensive care


The Close Collaboration Training Program has been developed in our unit to facilitate family centered care practices in neonatal intensive care. The training program is based on assumption that parental care and an emerging relationship with the parents are crucial for the development of newborn infant. The early parent-infant relationship is unique developmental environment. Therefore, the parents can support the development of their preterm or sick newborn already during hospitalization by being present and by providing the love and care for their infant.

Often a parent of a newborn infant has an intuitive need to stay close to his/her infant to protect and to learn to know her/him. Therefore, a separation from the newborn may cause stress and anxiety to the parents. Parents' unlimited possibility to participate in the care of their infant during intensive care also supports their own well-being and thereby the relationship with their infant.

Parents' presence in the unit and participation in the infant care is influenced by care culture e.g. how they are welcomed to the unit, how opportunities to participate in infant care are provided, and how their opinions are heard in decision making. The Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program aims to increase staff's capacity to support early parent-infant relationship and to create a partnership with parents in the care of their infant.               

The whole staff of the Turku University Hospital neonatal intensive care unit has participated in the training program. Our unit is also a training center for units in other hospitals.


The goal of the Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program is to develop family centered care culture on the unit level by training all of the nurses, doctors, and other staff of a neonatal intensive care unit. One motivation to update care culture to prepare the staff for single family room unit to get the benefits of the physical facilities for both parents and staff.  

We developed and carried out the Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program in the neonatal intensive care unit of Turku University Hospital during the years 2009 to 2012. The corner stones of the training program are the joint observation of infant's individual behavior with parents and planning the infant care with parents based on the join observations. The training supports the staff in their capacity to listen parents regarding decision making and thereby integrates parents in the care team. This increases parents' presence and participation in the care of the infant. Long-term goal is to support infant development and the development of attachment relationship between parents and the infant.

The training program is based on clinical research evidence and theories of developmental psychology. It consists of a bed-side learning with a mentor, reflective supervision and theoretical teaching supported by the attached manual (password protected).

We train mentors to facilitate the learning of the whole staff of the unit. The mentors form a team with the medical director, head nurse of the unit, and the supervisor who carries the responsibility of the reflective supervision groups. The team participates actively in the training and is responsible of the practical organization of the training in their unit.

We provide contact teaching, consulting and supervision for the mentors, the medical director, the head nurse, ans supervisor for one and a half years. The mentors receive five weeks of contact teaching by our trainer mentors. The contact teaching progresses through the four phases. The other members of the team are offered two weeks of theoretical teaching and teaching in small groups. The contact teaching can be organized both in Turku and in the participating unit according to the needs of a unit. The cost of the periods of contact teachings, consultations, and training materials equals 35 000€. In addition, there will be travel expenses needed for contact teaching and costs for the unit to resource the time for mentoring and staff participation in the training. When evaluating the cost of the training please remember that the target group is the whole staff (cost of training per staff member).

The trainers of the Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program:

Sari Ahlqvist-Björkroth, Psych. Lic., psychotherapist, coordinator of the training program

Liisa Lehtonen, MD, Medical Director of NICU and Professor in Pediatrics

Please do not hesitate to contact us for future information:


At the moment, all units participating in the training are included in the evaluation study. The research evaluates both immediate and longterm effect of the Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program from the perspectives of child, parents, and staff. The first results show a substantial change in care culture towards more family centered care. In addition, preliminary data suggests decrease in maternal depression rates. 
Research group:
Liisa Lehtonen, MD, Medical Director of NICU, Professor in Pediatrics, Turku University Hospital and Turku University
Anna Axelin, RN, PhD, Research Fellow in the Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku
Sari Ahlqvist-Björkroth, Psych. Lic., Turku University
Simo Raiskila, Medical student, PhD student, Turku University
Mirka Toivonen, RN, Master student, University of Turku
1. Axelin A, Ahlqvist-Björkroth S, Kauppila W, Boukydis Z & Lehtonen L. Nurses’ Perspective on Close Collaboration with Parents Training Program in the NICU. Am J Matern Child Nurs 2014; 39:260-68.
Raiskila S, Axelin A, Rapeli S, Vasko I & Lehtonen L. Trends in care practices reflecting parental involvement in neonatal care. Early Human Development 2014; 90:863-67


Päivitetty: 21/03/2016 09:00