Feeding issues are the most common problems new parents grapple with when they first return home. Many NICU babies are fed through nasal gastric tubes in hospital, so learning to feed without one tires babies out – and their parents – and throws any semblance of routine out the window.
Alison describes the homecare service as a ‘safety net’ to make sure babies continue to grow and feed well after they leave NICU. “Some extreme pre-term babies that are born at 24 or 25 weeks need to go home on some low flow oxygen. We work with families and their neonatologist to gradually wean that oxygen down so those babies can sometimes be with us for three to six months.”
When the time is right, the homecare team passes that medical oversight over to Well-Child providers such as Plunket or Māori or Pacific health organisations in the community.
Although homecare nurses like Alison see most babies twice a week, their phones are always on to respond to calls and text messages from worried parents.