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Cork Independent

Lifestyle & Leisure

Support for premature babies

Thursday, 23rd November, 2017 9:12am

Children who were born prematurely recently marked the ninth annual World Prematurity Day.
The Irish Neonatal Health Alliance (INHA) was joined by the children and their families to mark the day which aims to shine a spotlight on the challenges these special ‘early deliveries’ face.

The medical symposium saw the INHA’s new educational guide, Next Steps… The Journey Home launched. The guide aims to empower parents of premature babies in making the transition from hospital to home easier and to improve long term outcomes for premature babies.

Next Steps… The Journey Home aims to help families play an active role in the discharge planning process to ensure that the transition from hospital to home is seamless for both baby and parent.

While in hospital, parents should be embraced as active participants and essential members of the caregiving team, and mentored in how to step confidently into their new role as parents.

When babies are ready to be discharged, parents need to feel prepared for home, have a solid understanding about their baby’s care and believe they have the confidence to manage at home independently.

Next Steps… the Journey Home aims to address some of the issues that families struggle with the most at discharge such as feeding, the development of the infant, recognition and management of illness at home, safety issues, emotional support and role integration.

The symposium Chair, Dr John Murphy, Clinical Lead for Neonatology at the National Maternity Hospital said: “The discharge planning process should begin upon admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and continue throughout the entire hospital stay. It is a teaching process that should involve the parents in every aspect of their infant’s care.

“Every interaction that takes place between the family and caregivers has the potential to influence a family’s NICU experience. Supporting and involving parents in the discharge process is of vital importance as it can reduce the risk of readmission and give the parent’s confidence in caring for their premature infant at home. Parents are the best informants for determining their infant’s need, therefore exploring their experiences and opinions is critical to ensuring the best possible discharge process for the family.”

Elaine Ní Bhraonáin, INHA Director, said: “As a parent of a baby boy born prematurely in 2015, I vividly remember being gripped with fear at the prospect of leaving the security of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after three months. Families will benefit enormously from this new guide which is available to download from our website inha.ie.”

Each year over 4,500 Irish babies and one in 10 babies globally are born prematurely.

This year Dr Sari Ahlqvist-Bjorkroth, Consultant Psychologist, University of Turku, Finland also addressed the symposium, exploring the theory that parental care, and the emerging relationship between premature babies and their parents, is crucial to the development of the newborn infant.

For more information about World Prematurity Day, the Discharge Planning Process and to download Next Steps…The Journey Home, visit INHA.ie.

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