International certification of the Department of Neonatology as a patient and family centred unit

​In August 2015, The Department of Neonatology at Rigshospitalet received a NIDCAP®certification. for its ability to focus on and involve patients and their families in all possible aspects of treatment and care contexts​

The Department of Neonatology at the Juliane Marie Centre is thus the second department in Europe to be certified according to the NIDCAP principles. These principles help ensure optimum well-being for the children and shorter admission times.

In order to become NIDCAP certified, a department must have implemented the patient and family-centred concept behind NIDCAP care into all its routines and treatments from when the child arrives at the hospital, to treatment and finally to discharge.

NIDCAP® is a patented system for a patient and family-centred approach to care and treatment that promotes focus on the special situation of each child and its family during the time of admission. For many years the Department of Neonatology has been working intensively on ensuring such care and treatment.  

The department ensures that parents always have a bed next to their child, and the staff conducts regular interviews with the parents using dialogue sheets as a fixed routine. The parents fill in the sheets when preparing for the interviews, and the staff base the interviews on these dialogue sheets. The dialogue sheets ensure that the dialogue focuses on exactly what the parents find important to talk about at any particular stage of the process.

The Department of Neonatology is the first department in the Nordic countries to be certified as a NIDCAP department. NIDCAP® is short for New Born Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program.  

Every step is documented

In order to become NIDCAP® certified, the department submitted translated care plans, parent folders, guidelines, teaching material and descriptions of work procedures. In addition, the department submitted videos and photos of the route parents have to walk from the carpark to the department, hospital wards, common rooms, facilities for staff, etc.

The material had to document that the Department of Neonatology fulfils 121 standards for physical frameworks and facilities for children, families and staff, care for the child, collaboration with parents as well as staff training.

The certification places special emphasis on the fact that "The "Neonatalafdelingen" (Department of Neonatology) Rigshospitalet, has a clear and strong commitment to and investment in the NIDCAP approach to care, and implements this approach to care at an exemplary level". The certification also states that "The Neonatalafdelingen, Rigshospitalet, provides an inspiration and model for others seeking to deliver the best individualised, developmentally sensitive family focused care for infants and their families". 


Premature babies and ill newborns often need admission to a specialist intensive care department with highly specialised technological care and treatment, and this can be very stressful and, at times, painful for the child.

On the basis of structured observations of the individual child, NIDCAP care promotes adaptation of the highly specialised technological care and treatment to the individual child and family.

With increased awareness of the child's reaction patterns, care and treatment for the child is adjusted to the child's threshold for coping with stimulation. This reduces pain and stress for the child.

A NIDCAP approach emphasises the fact that parents are the best people to take care of their own child. Since the parents themselves are often under stress, they may need support to fulfil this role.

The NIDCAP certification was celebrated at the 50th anniversary of the Department of Neonatology at Rigshospitalet on 5 September 2015.

For more information about NIDCAP go to or to the Department of Neonatology.​

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