Family Integrated Care (FICare)

In Level II NICUs

An Innovation Program for Alberta

In Alberta, nearly one in every 12 babies is born too soon (preterm). Preterm babies are at greater risk for breathing and feeding problems, as well as infections, than babies born on their due date (full term). As a result, parents must leave their preterm babies in the hospital to fully develop and become healthy enough to take home.

When it is time for discharge, parents are often not ready to look after their baby because they may have limited involvement in the care of their baby in hospital. In addition to the distress and costs to parents of having a baby in hospital, health system costs also increase the longer a baby is in hospital.

The purpose of this project is to test a new way to integrate parents into the care of their baby through a program called Family Integrated Care (FICare). In FICare, parents are educated and supported by nurses to provide care for their baby; nurses and doctors still provide intravenous medications and medical procedures.

FICare has been tested in Ontario and shows promise as a better model of care for the small percentage of babies born more than eight weeks early, who have to spend a long time in hospital.

We want to test FICare with the greater percentage of preterm babies who are born four to eight weeks early to see if parents are able to take their baby home sooner, and if their babies are healthier.

We also want to know if FICare can reduce distress for parents.

We propose to test FICare in Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in Alberta by implementing FICare in half the Level II NICUs and comparing the outcomes with the other Level II NICUs who do not use FICare.

If FICare improves outcomes for preterm babies and their parents, we will implement it in all Level II NICUs.

In Alberta, we want the best quality care for our most vulnerable babies and their parents.

This project is aligned with Alberta’s Health Research and Innovation Strategy priority of wellness at every age, including child and maternal health, and with Alberta Health Services’ and SCN quality of care goals to increase efficiencies, effectiveness, appropriateness, and acceptability of health care services delivery.



  • Abhay Lodha
    University of Calgary
  • Karen Benzies
    University of Calgary
  • Khalid Aziz
    University of Alberta
  • Vibhuti Shah
    University of Alberta

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