Cork University Maternity Hospital and UCC INFANT Centre have collaborated to provide virtual visiting for babies in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The new initiative allows families to remotely check-in on their baby amid Covid-19 visiting restrictions.

The safe and secure platform can be accessed at any time, from any device and is available at no cost to the parents.

Staff record short video messages and updates of each baby which can then be sent directly to parents via the vCreate platform.

It is simple to use and parents can easily create an account that is linked directly to their baby, allowing them to download videos to share with siblings, grandparents and other family members.

The system follows on from previous research work supported by Science Foundation Ireland.

Staff record short video messages and updates of each baby (File pic)

Nicola Carey is a parent whose son is in the NICU. Her family have been using the virtual visitation platform to check on his progress.

"It is great, as his dad can see the progress he is making on a daily basis. It is great to see him in the morning before I visit. It has been amazing for the anxious grandparents to see him and know he is doing well. It has been brilliant for us," she said.

Prof Gene Dempsey, Consultant Neonatologist at CUMH and Principal Investigator at INFANT, UCC, said: "This is a fantastic initiative which we hope will go some way to reducing the significant stress that parents are now facing.

"Whether it's for a day or two admission, or indeed many months for our most immature babies, we believe this system, along with its educational material, will alleviate some of the worry that families face in these difficult times."