Same here - we are not allowed to place the baby in the seat or help with installation at all. We can do our carseat test, sure, but that's usually a few days before discharge. When the kids are actually going home, it's up to the parents. We can tell them things but can't physically get in there and do it. We cover car seat safety in our optional infant care class, and we also have a video for parents to watch if they wish. It drives me absolutely batty to see carseats on our unit with the bases attached - you don't need the base to do the carseat test, there is a line or an actual level on all infant seats that shows you what angle it needs to be at, plus the base is purely for parental convenience, not safety. We tell the parents to take the base HOME and have it installed properly in their cars, but few listen. Many times a discharge is held up because Dad is outside trying to get the base attached. It's amazing to me how confusing some of these seats and bases can be when it comes to both installation and infant strap adjustment!!! The seat we got for our daughter took one minute to install properly in the car and the restraint straps couldn't be easier to adjust. I can see, though, looking at some of these other seats, why so many are installed and used improperly!!!
The only seats we lend out are car beds for kids who fail their carseat test or have another medical reason for not sitting upright in a carseat. These kids are almost always followed by our unit's home care team, so we tend to get the seats back!
I don't think that we're being mean when we say it's the parents' problem to get the seats installed. We are not certified to install them so telling the parents that they need to make arrangements for installation isn't out of line, I don't think. If they were in the regular newborn nursery it wouldn't be any different. If a pregnant woman goes to any prenatal classes, reads pregnancy magazines, registers at a baby store, or talks to other people with kids, they should be well aware that they need to install the carseat BEFORE the baby is born.
While it would be nice to have nurses certified in car seat installation, the classes are very expensive and I believe one week long, 9-5, and most units aren't going to pay for a bunch of nurses to go through that. It would be hard to make sure one of those nurses is working every single shift, too, and we all know that kids can go home at 2am sometimes!