For several years I was a family support specialist in a level III NICU and spent countless hours planning, preparing for and hosting parent hours and family events. I had read the abundant research that was available stating how important peer-to-peer support was for NICU families and I wanted to ensure that our unit was offering plenty of opportunities for families to connect with one another, especially once we had transitioned to a a single room unit design. I understood quite well that the long term physical and mental health outcomes of the neonates we were caring for relied heavily on the mental health of the parents while they were in our care during the NICU journey.
Yet despite careful planning and doing all I could to make accommodations to ensure the majority of families could attend, we had terribly low attendance to every event we offered. I would find myself getting so frustrated and so many times I wanted to give up. Why continue to go to so much trouble of planning and hosting events when no one would show up?
Well, instead of giving up....... I realized I had to just get creative!
Here is what I learned after talking to numerous parents about why they were not attending events/activities in the unit:
Taking all of these very real concerns into consideration, Patient+Family Care came up with a support community that would not only help remove all of the voiced concerns and barriers, but also provide education and valuable information to new NICU parents who find themselves in a completely overwhelming new world.
The benefits of our online, active, engaging, educational and unique community is that it is also completely customizable for individual hospitals, making it the perfect peer-to-peer support offering as well! Below are some of the benefits of this program, to both families and hospitals, are listed below:
Families that have participated in the on-line program, have voiced that by participating in this particular support community has given them:
The online community not only highlights important topics that every NICU family will face during their NICU journey, regardless of their baby's diagnosis, prognosis, length of stay or the gestational age they were born at; but it also allows hospitals that purchase this program to provide patients and families with unit specific information regarding policies/procedures, rules/regulations and local resources that may be able to help decrease the stress level for individual families.
We are so proud of this work and hope to see more and more units brining this type of peer-to-peer support into their units to enhance the level of support parents are given.
Visit our page especially for organizations to learn more about how you can bring this very exciting opportunity http://www.patientfamilycare.com/organizations.html, or families can individually visit http://www.patientfamilycare.com/nicu-families.htmwww.patientfamilycare.com/nicu-families.htmll to join on their own.