Embedding the voice of families at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital

The WCH Foundation is proud to be funding a project to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable babies and their families in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

Having a baby in NICU and SCBU can be a very scary and distressing time for families, and this project recognises the importance of Parent and Family-Centred Care (PFCC). The aim is to develop and improve family connections and resilience during NICU and SCBU stays and to facilitate a confident, safe and seamless transition home.

Part of this project includes the placement of a PFCC Representative with lived experience to support families on their Hospital journey, by embedding their feedback into tailoring service delivery.

PFCC Representative

Baby Abdul Ahad being fed in NICU.

Baby Abdul Ahad being fed in NICU.

Eight years ago, Sharon Sand’s daughter suffered a spinal cord injury after jumping into their family pool and spent over eight months in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Since then, Sharon has been involved in the WCH community, giving her time to provide support to other families who are on similar journeys through her lived experience.

Now, she has taken on the exciting new role of PFCC Representative in NICU and SCBU.

Super Shaz

Sharon provides comfort to parents like Nazish and her new baby, Abdul Ahad.

Sharon provides comfort to parents like Nazish and her new baby, Abdul Ahad.

Sharon, or Shaz as she is affectionately known by the families in the Hospital nurseries, is there to embed families’ experiences into the service.

“When I introduce myself to the staff, I tell them, ‘I’m not here to dib dob or to disagree with your job, I’m here to support you and to get you the recognition you deserve’,” Sharon says.

“I ask families things like, do the staff talk to you in layman’s terms so you understand? Do you feel safe? And so far, I’ve received sensational feedback.”

The families are showing great interest in providing Sharon feedback on their experiences, something that has been hard to capture in the past.

“I tell them that they can hit me with anything they want to know that they don’t feel that they can ask or don’t feel comfortable asking.”

“If I don’t know about it, I will endeavour to find out.”

Megan, Jess and Rylee

Megan and Jess admiring their beautiful newborn Rylee.

Megan and Jess admiring their beautiful newborn Rylee.

Megan and Jess’ baby, Rylee, was born via emergency C section at 28 weeks and 6 days, weighing in at a tiny 858 grams. She was cared for in NICU and then SCBU.

“Having a premature baby wasn’t the ideal start to parenthood, but in terms of how things have gone, it’s been so helpful to have Shaz,” Megan says.

“You can feel a bit isolated in here, so having her support is great,” Jess says.

“Sharon’s a great talker, she’ll come past and have a chat and it’s nice to know someone is there for us.”

Nazish, Farhan and Abdul Ahad

Farhan and Nazish holding their adorable baby, Abdul Ahad

Farhan and Nazish holding their adorable baby, Abdul Ahad

Nazish and Farhan’s baby boy, Abdul Ahad, was born at 35 weeks and 3 days via elective C section. They had been trying for nine years, including IUI and IVF, and now have had their first child naturally who has been cared for in NICU, SCBU, and Rose Ward.

Although they are over the moon to have him here now, they say that being in hospital can be a daunting experience.

Having Sharon to talk to has opened their eyes to the support and facilities available to them at the Hospital.

“The other day, Sharon told me about the Sacred Space in the Hospital. Now I go every day for my prayer, which is fantastic. Everything is there for my needs,” Farhan says.

“The only thing missing is not knowing that there are things there, which is why we like having Sharon,” Nazish says.

“It’s just easier. She’s so easily reachable.”

Creating positive experiences

Megan and Jess say Sharon has been a great support during their time at the Hospital with Rylee.

Megan and Jess say Sharon has been a great support during their time at the Hospital with Rylee.

With the consumer feedback she is collecting, Sharon is hoping to keep a positive and supportive environment at the Hospital for all families coming through.

This role is a ‘proof of concept’ as the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN) Consumer Engagement Team evaluate the potential role of PFCC Representatives into the future.

Small baby being held by the Mother

Mother Nazish holding baby Abdul Ahad

To learn more about the amazing projects happening throughout WCHN funded by the WCH Foundation, click here.

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