The Neonatal Trust is a charity who operate across New Zealand. We are light on paid staff but heavy on volunteer commitment and resources. We principally operate alongside the five Level 3 NICUs based in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. Outside of these regions we look to provide support in a number of ways.
We have also started to create Parent Support Groups based around the Level 2 NICUs and Special Care Baby Units (SCBUs) around the country, in places such as New Plymouth. These Parent Support Groups are aimed at assisting local families by providing information and support. If you live outside of the 5 main regions and want to learn more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.
Our services are at different levels of maturity in different locations. Due to this, the services provided in each region differ. It is a clear goal to enhance the services across the country and provide consistent support.The support we provide for families in the NICU is provided in a number of different ways, including:
1. Information packs
Provide a free information pack to parents in the NICU as soon as possible. The pack contains a handy “all you need to know” booklet providing parents with the information they need to help them get through their time in the NICU and a small gift to acknowledge the arrival of their baby. (usually knitted booties and a hat).
2. Regular lunches/morning teas and catch-up.
This is an opportunity to provide necessary information and support and also answer any questions. Parents can also develop support networks with other parents, which help outside of the unit.
Parents who have had a NICU experience often need support once they return home, as returning home with a baby that was premature or sick can have demands over and above a full term healthy newborn. Also parents may not have ever had the opportunity to join an antenatal group. We wish to offer regular playgroups where parents can meet up after they have left the NICU and their babies can have a play. The music and movement sessions that The Neonatal Trust (Canterbury) currently provides have been specifically designed to focus on the developmental needs of children born prematurely.
4. Ward visits
With the permission of the District Health Board (DHB), carry out ante and post natal ward visits with parents providing targeted information, helpful advice and lending a listening ear.
5. Just for Dads
While usually there for the first few critical days or weeks, Dads generally have to return to work, sometimes in a different city, making regular visits to the NICU difficult. This can leave Dads with infants in the unit feeling isolated. The Trust understands that Dads need support too, and we are happy to assist where we can. Just for Dad’s involves:
- a relaxed chat with other Dads who have been there and who are going through similar experiences to you, Dads who really understand;
- good honest bloke-to-bloke advice, stories, experience and support on life in the Unit, caring for a sick or premature baby, partner handling, life after the Unit, the rugby, the weather, life outside hospital…and anything else you want to chat about; and
- some timeout to focus on yourself and to get support on being a Dad.
Just for Dads is currently available in Wellington. Auckland puts Dads in contact with each other as required. We are aiming to provide this in every region.
6. Trust “Shop and Support services”
The Neonatal Trust operates a combined shop and office located within the NICU in both Auckland and Wellington. The shops carries ranges of clothing for premature babies and newborns (hard to source in mainstream shops);
- has breastfeeding equipment for sale at discounted rates;
- has breastfeeding equipment for hire at subsidised rates (plus free in identified extreme circumstances);
- maintains a library of neonatal reference material for parents to borrow while in the NICUs; and
- have staff on site who provide support, advice, and co-ordination for families in the NICU. This includes, for example, the provision of petrol vouchers for those parents struggling financially so that their situation does not hinder visiting and caring for their baby.
In addition to everything set out above, we would provide a range of specific assistance based on the need at the time and the funds available. Examples include:
- providing help with petrol vouchers for parents finding it difficult (cost prohibitive) to travel to visit their baby who may be in the NICU for weeks or months. Being unable to come to the hospital may impact the health of baby and their speed of recovery because, for example, a mother or father cannot make necessary visits for breastfeeding or kangaroo cuddles;
- facilitating the organisation of logistics such as accommodation for parents who find themselves in a different region (where specialist care is required, or their local NICU is at capacity, families are transferred to a different region often at very short notice);