HEALTHCARE: Liaison nurses give parents confidence to take premature babies home early

One such baby to get home early to meet his big brother is Joshua Menzies, pictured here with his parents, who surprised everyone by arriving eight weeks early, back in April.

By Lucy Ashton

Premature babies are getting home to their families quicker, thanks to a new service introduced by staff at the Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow.

Babies who are born early often haven’t developed the ability to suck and need to be fed through a tube into their nose. Until recently, this meant staying in hospital for several weeks, where staff could change and maintain the vital feeding tube until little ones learned to suck for themselves.

But now parents are being taught the skills to give them the confidence to do this themselves. This saves on weeks in hospital and allows everyone to be home together, bonding as a family.

Dr Carolyn Abernethy is a Consultant Neonatologist at Princess Royal Maternity. She said: “This really is a win win for everyone. Mums and dads get to take their baby home days or even weeks earlier than they would otherwise and we are able to free up beds for other babies. Feeding their new-born baby is something most parents take for granted, however for many of our parents initially they are not able to do this, so supporting them to give tube feeds helps them feel more involved in their baby’s care.

“With visiting restrictions during COVID, siblings haven’t been able to get in to meet their little brothers and sisters, so coming home weeks earlier brings everyone together, which is great.

“So far, across the families we have helped, we have saved around three months of hospital stays, ​which is all down to the hard work of our liaison nurses Julie Cruikshank and Lynsey Ferguson who support these families in their homes. The feedback we have had from families has been really positive too, with parents more relaxed, empowered and not split between their new-born and their other children. It’s been great for everyone.”

One such baby to get home early to meet his big brother is Joshua Menzies, who surprised everyone by arriving eight weeks early, back in April.

Mum Jessica was keen to get Joshua home as soon as possible, to allow the family to be together.

She said: “Joshua was in Special Care until he was about three and a half weeks. When the staff suggested us learning how to change his feeding tube I found the idea a bit daunting, but I’m so glad we did learn. We always knew we had the back-up of the hospital and nurses came out to see him at home three days a week to check his weight. Their support was invaluable.

“Joshua hadn’t met his brother, so getting home three weeks earlier than we would otherwise have was great for the whole family. Because I had gone into labour early and unexpectedly during the night, it was tough on Benjamin being away from his mum too.

“I’m really grateful to everyone involved in Joshua’s care and for giving us the confidence to take him home early.”



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