Helix DIY SOS team make neonatal unit’s Christmas dreams come true

It’s the stuff many of us dream of for Christmas, new furniture, a new kitchen, a nice breakfast bar, but never in their wildest dreams could the staff on Hull Women and Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) imagine they’d get all this and more for free.

But the kindness and generosity of Hull-based Helix CMS, who are currently working to expand the unit and create extra cot capacity for premature babies*, clearly knows no bounds.

Now billed as NICU’s own DIY SOS team, Helix has agreed to refit and refurbish the neonatal unit’s parental living room free of charge, from new kitchen worktops, taps and units through to spotlights, a tea boiler and a fresh coat or two of paint; and all this in under two weeks!

But thanks to the contractor’s generosity, the real winners will be the parents of those babies born prematurely, as Jenny Hemingway, Neonatal Clinical Nurse Educator explains:

“We encourage parents to spend as much time as they can with their babies while they’re on the unit, but we know there are times when they simply need a break, even if it’s just for ten minutes, and that parental living room can then act as a real sanctuary. It’s a safe space to collect their thoughts, hydrate, have something to eat and step away from the hustle and bustle if the ward becomes busy.

“Because of this, it’s really important that it’s a pleasant and comfortable space for them, and not overly clinical; many families can spend weeks and weeks here with us, so we need that living room in particular to be as much of a ‘home from home’ as we can.

“Having parents spend time on the ward is all part of the process of learning how to care for their baby and preparing the family for a safe discharge back home. Many babies leave our unit still requiring extra support such as oxygen or help with feeding, so by creating an environment where parents feel comfortable, it helps us pass on the skills and knowledge they’ll need when they return home, and it helps them feel more confident too.

“The parents are such an important part in a baby’s journey to full health, that our thoughts must be equally as focused on them as they are on our young patients.

“It’s really amazing what Helix and their partners are doing for us and we’re so grateful.”

From first starting on Monday 11 December, the Helix team has managed to transform the second floor, dual aspect room in just under two weeks, and only a handful of hospital staff have been party to the progress made, with most only witnessing the transformation for themselves on Thursday 21st December, the day of the big reveal.

Francesca Matthews, Ward Manager of NICU adds:

“Our new parental living room is just amazing, a perfect retreat for parents spending time here when they need it and it was such a generous gesture.

“The team at Helix have been a delight to have working here. No problem has been too big or too small for them, and they have been incredibly considerate given the ward environment we work in and how difficult a time many of the families we care for are going through.

“They’ve already supported NICU by buying items from our Amazon Wish List and we even have a weekly delivery of home-made cakes for our staff tea trolley from Helix’s very own Project Support Sophie and her mum!

“The refurbishment of our parents living space wasn’t part of the contracted works, so to have them offer to refit it and give it a much-needed freshen up, all at no cost to us and with some staff giving up their own time to help, was like a Christmas wish come true; we can’t thank them enough.”

Helix’s generosity also supplements the Trust’s own WISHH Charity’s ‘Space to Grow’ Appeal, which has sought to raise £100,000 for the development of a sensory room and staff training facilities within the expanded neonatal intensive care unit.

Mark Pearson, Helix Construction Director, says: “After working on NICU ward for the last 12 weeks, we’ve witnessed all the hard work and compassion the staff show the parents and babies. As a company whose focus is to leave a positive legacy in the areas we work, we decided we wanted to offer our help to upgrade the parents kitchen. This was a great opportunity to give something back to the staff and the parents using the facility, now and in the future. It makes me really proud that Helix and all of our partners and subcontractors have achieved this in the middle of a very busy phase of the building works. Many thanks to Francesca and the nursing team at NICU for working together with all the building team over the last three months.”

The team at Helix is clear that they couldn’t have completed the project without the help of their generous partners and local companies who have gone above and beyond to provide materials and work for free.

Mark continues: “We would like to extend our thanks to MEC Humber Ltd for the mechanical and electrical works and the new tea boiler; to Lisa at Howdens, Hessle Road, for the kitchen units; to Joe Fletcher from Beechwood Joinery for the window boards; to Apleona for supplying the new window blinds;  Pittaway for providing all decoration works; Techcon Flooring for the new vinyl step; and Paul Oliver at Helix FMS for fire stopping and ceiling works.”