Supporting families of premature and sick babies to return home sooner with NeoHOME

Mum Zeena Segeyaro and her twin boys Mathias and Iffysoe will be some of the first patients to participate in the NeoHOME program

Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) has launched NeoHOME, a new service designed to support families of eligible babies in the Grantley Stable Neonatology Unit to take their new family member home two to three weeks earlier than they previously have been able to.

The service will involve families looking after their baby/babies at home with the support of daily visits from a neonatal nurse to ensure families feel safe, confident and well-informed.

NeoHOME will provide the same high quality of care that would be delivered in the Grantley Stable Neonatology Unit, while lessening the impacts of long-term hospitalisation on families such as the stress of being away from other children and the financial impact of car parking and paying for accommodation close to hospital.

RBWH Neonatal Clinical Nurse Consultant and NeoHOME Project Lead Kate Cogill said the NeoHOME Service is set to assist up to 60 premature or sick babies each year.

“The final few weeks spent in hospital with a premature or sick baby is often predominantly focused on parents learning how to feed their baby,” Ms Cogill said.

“Many of these families have spent many months in hospital by this point, so these final weeks can be a frustrating time as they can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are anxious to get their baby home.

“The Neonatology clinical team identified that there was an opportunity to deliver safe care to babies in the home and teach parents how to feed their baby using the feeding tube, all in the comfort of their own environment.

“We hope that by caring for babies in the home, we can also lessen the amount of time they are dependent on tube feeding and can provide support with the transition to bottle or breast feeding.”

RBWH Director of Neonatology Pieter Koorts said innovation is at the heart of clinical practice in the Grantley Stable Neonatology Unit.

“The Neonatology team are always looking for ways to improve the experience of having a baby in hospital for families,” Dr Koorts said.

“We understand how difficult it can be, so allowing babies to go home two to three weeks earlier via the NeoHOME service has the opportunity to make a world of difference.

“While the COVID pandemic presented many challenges for the health system as a whole, it also offered opportunities to examine different ways to deliver care. It’s all about making positive improvements for the families we care for.”

Mum Zeena Segeyaro and her twin boys Mathias and Iffysoe will be some of the first patients to participate in the NeoHOME program.

“Mathias and Iffysoe were born on the 22 August 2022 at 31 weeks gestation, so we’ve spent a few months in the NICU while the boys received some extra care,” Ms Segeyaro said.

“The twins only need help with their feeding now, so when I found out we could receive the same level of care in the comfort of our home with the NeoHOME program, I decided it would be perfect for us.

“My other little boy who is nine-years-old is so excited to meet his new brothers, so it’s great that he can get to know them a little bit sooner too!”

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