New and improved Parent Support Community!
Patient+Family Care is excited to share the launch of our new and improved NICU Parent Support Community. While our previous community was successful and received great reviews, we are always looking for ways to improve our customer experience. We decided to collaborate with many of our previous participants and we asked them what it was that they wish they would have seen included in the community. We also asked what information they would have found to be helpful if it were included in the program to help them feel even more supported while they were in the NICU. Overwhelmingly, participants all said mental health, self care and preparing for discharge.
These participants not only offered up these topic ideas, but they also offered to help create the content so that new participants would truly hear exactly what parents want to hear. The common goal the parents and Patient+Family Care both had in mind was to create a safe community where current NICU families could join and could learn how to not only survive the NICU journey..... but would THRIVE!
What are the benefits of this unique and engaging community?
There are many benefits to our community, and they of course will differ for every individual. However, the basics can be summarized in the graphic below:
We are happy to be offering this engaging community to parents so that they receive education, information, resources and connection all while having access to a NICU nurse who will teach them how to be an advocate for themselves and their child(ren). More importantly, this community will empower parents to become better prepared to know how to anticipate the roller coaster of emotions that typically accompany the NICU experience and will truly normalize the psychosocial side effects that rarely get discussed.
Okay, so Father’s Day is a few days away, but we want to start to celebrate these un-sung hero’s today!
As a NICU nurse, I have been present for hundreds of critical admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit. Rather than the birth of a new baby being surrounded by joy and celebration with balloons, flowers and cigars; these small and fragile infants are born with families that are now faced with fear and uncertainty.
While parents have frequently told me that they admire me for what I do, I always tell them it’s the other way around! I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for NICU parents. They come in to this completely foreign and scary environment day after day, having to trust complete strangers with the most precious thing in the world to them.
They have to leave their child in the hands of nurses and doctors for days, weeks, months or even years while they do everything they can to feel like a parent. They have to juggle their outside life and this new life that revolves around a hospital. Some parents have infants that are so sick, that they come in never knowing if it will be for the last time. Yet these parents stay strong and keep going. They manage other children they have at home, they manage to get out of bed each day and go back to the hospital and they manage to show their baby more love than I ever knew a human could possibly have.
Yet above this generalized admiration for NICU parents, I have found that I personally have the most respect and highest regard for the dad’s in the NICU. Please don’t take that as an offense to mothers because as a mother myself, I am fully aware of the sacrifices moms make. It’s the moms that are pumping milk every two to three hours around the clock, getting no sleep, usually are the ones that help keep the house going, the other kids going, juggle the priorities to make sure everything gets done and lets not forget the hormonal changes they have to suffer through after having a baby. Yet when you stop and watch a family, and really look at the experience and stress they are going through, I see something very different in the eyes of the fathers.
When I watch a dad come in, there is this overwhelming weight that I will see in his eyes. The weight is filled with hope of course, but it’s as if he realizes that he not only has this small little person to fight for and care about, but he also has this baby’s mother to worry about. I have watched countless fathers be at the bedside around the clock just like a mother. Yet not only is he tending to his child’s needs, but he is also making sure his partner is eating enough, drinking enough, getting up and moving enough. He is worried about how she feels, if she is getting enough rest, and the list goes on and on.
So NICU fathers, on this coming fathers’ day, we will celebrate YOU! We will celebrate the dad who shows up to the NICU with unbreakable strength and never ending devotion to care and provide for everyone that is important to him!
Visit our Celebrating Fathers Day Pinterest page to find ways to help celebrate the NICU dad’s this weekend!
In my many years of NICU nursing, I was asked countless times from families if they could take me home with them! And I heard families ask my co-workers that same question time and time again.
Families, while in the NICU, especially when they experience a lengthy stay, grow accustomed to having a medical professional looking after their fragile infant 24/7. That brings a level of comfort and when parents are facing the reality of finally taking their child home, the excitement of leaving the hospital can often times be overwhelmed by the fear of not having immediate help near by if something were to go wrong.
The answer to their question unfortunately was/is always no. Nurses can't go home with parents. HOWEVER.... there is a little bit of good news! Parents can become their own N.U.R.S.E. to ensure they are taking care of themselves so that in turn they will be able to better care for their child when outside the hospital walls.
Implementing the N.U.R.S.E. care model is most beneficial if families can begin utilizing the tool while still in the hospital. This provides the opportunity for parents and family members to get used to how the tool works and can utilize the NICU staff as supporters of their plans. Once home, families will be better equipped to continue the practice of N.U.R.S.E. self care and can transition to relying on other family and friends for support.
What is the N.U.R.S.E. care model?
It is simply a way to create, carry out and stick to goals that focus on self care! The individual will create daily goals in several categories, and do their best and meeting those goals to improve and/or optimize health.
Each category signifies an area of focus that if addressed, can help improve an individual's psychosocial support.
N: Nutrition Making a goal related to eating right and having healthy foods/snacks is so important! Think of a goal that will help you get in healthy foods for fuel your body.
U: Understanding Having the information you need to understand what is going on with you and/or with your child will help calm nerves and/or anxiety. It's important to know where to go for appropriate information, as the web can provide inaccurate information that is not applicable to YOUR situation. Ask questions of the medical professionals involved in your or your child's care.
R: Rest & Relaxation Being a new parents is exhausting and overwhelming. Being a parent of a NICU graduate can be even more exhausting and overwhelming due to many complexities of care and worries. Getting plenty of rest is KEY! And finding ways to allow yourself to relax will help you not only feel better, but will help you be more equipped to care for your baby.
S: Spiritual Not everyone believes in a higher power, or a God. So spiritual goals really need to be customized to what spirituality means to you. Is it spending time in prayer? Reading scripture? Meditating? Being out in nature? Finding ways to connect to what is important to you is what this is all about!
E: Exercise Healthy movement and exercise is good for everyone.... especially stressed new parents. Find a way to work an exercise goal into every day. Maybe it's to get out and talk a short walk, to participate in yoga at home, to walk on a treadmill, etc. But setting a goal where you will get some type of exercise every day will be good for everyone!
Download a N.U.R.S.E. template form now and start setting self care goals today!
Most people don't think of the NICU as a place to play games and have fun. It's a scary, overwhelming, isolating and high intensity environment. Who would be playing a game when babies are struggling every day and fighting for their best chance at life?
Well, we are thrilled to be showcasing and releasing our latest product that will get parents of NICU babies playing a game! Because we know what a stressful and exhausting experience the NICU is for many families, we know that a little fun can go a LONG way! And why not have fun doing things that are healthy and helpful for a parents' physical and mental health?
We have created a NICU Parent Bingo game, inspired by Postpartum Internationals Postpartum Bingo game, that is designed especially for NICU families and helping them find a way to focus on their self-care during their child's hospitalization. A neonate's health and overall well being can be dramatically improved when their parent's psychosocial and physical health are in harmony, yet typically NICU families have a difficult time prioritizing themselves when their baby is in the hospital.
We encourage neonatal staff to provide families with a BINGO card early on in a NICU admission, and then find ways to provide incentives for when they complete a traditional Bingo or a full card Bingo. Reward families for making themselves a priority and caring for themselves when they likely want to do everything but that.
Purchase the cards and laminate them to use them over and over again with long term families, or provide a single card to families to hang at their baby's bedside if they have a shorter stay. Get creative on how you present rewards, celebrate parents who are able to participate and use the card as an additional teaching tool to remind families what self care is important to focus on.
For this inaugural NICU Mental Health Awareness Week, we are going to give a way two sets of our brand new Bingo cards! Enter into our drawing, and watch social media on Friday to see who wins!
NICU Mental Health Awareness Week
April 15-19, 2019 is NICU Mental Health Awareness Week!
Family members of critically ill patients frequently experience an increased incidence of physical and mental health issues. The NICU is certainly an incredibly stressful time for families, so supporting the physical and emotional health of parents and family members is incredibly important if there is a desire to help improve a parents' physical and psychosocial health.
Patient+Family Care knows and understands how important it is to encourage families to practice self-care during the NICU journey, but also fully acknowledges that the acts of self-care are much easier said than done!
In response to witnessing so many families experiencing postpartum depression, overwhelming stress, post traumatic stress disorder and pure exhaustion during their child's neonatal hospitalization, Patient+Family Care developed a fun, unique and creative way for staff to help encourage families to participate in positive and healthy habits.
NICU Parent Bingo is an easy way for parents to play a friendly game while simultaneously taking care of themselves. We recommend that units provide a reward for parents who complete a traditional bingo run and when they complete their entire card. What better way to provide an incentive for a new mom or dad (or grandparent, sibling, friend, etc.) to focus on their own health so that they can be the healthiest versions of themselves, which in turn will provide a more stable and nurturing environment for their baby to grown and thrive in.