Parents to comfort critically ill babies in Aberdeen

By Laura Goodwin
Innovation Correspondent

image captionBabies at Aberdeen Maternity Unit will receive new methods of care aimed at reducing trauma

Parents of seriously ill or premature babies will become instrumental in nursing them to health as part of a new neonatal project.

Aberdeen Maternity Hospital has welcomed a US expert in neonatal nursing to trial the latest practices in comforting vulnerable infants.

It is thought involving parents in issues such as pain management can help reduce morbidity and complications.

It comes after the neonatal unit was given a £27,000 charity donation.

image captionParents will be involved in comforting their babies during painful procedures

Mary Coughlin, an expert in the care of extremely small and critically ill babies, will train staff at the Aberdeen neonatal unit as part of the Quantum Caring Project over six months.

Over the course of her career she has mentored more than 10,000 clinicians from 14 countries, having founded her healthcare consultancy firm Caring Essentials Collaborative.

Ms Coughlin has worked with staff on how to minimise trauma through pain and stress assessment, as well as pain and stress management.

image captionMary Coughlin founded her own healthcare consultancy practice

She has also demonstrated how to involve family members in comforting their babies at a time when illness can often separate parent and child.

Ms Coughlin told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "Two person care is basically one person doing the procedure and the other person's sole job is to make sure the baby is comfortable.

"The gold standard for the two-person approach is that other person, that comfort person, is a parent or family member.

"There's lots of things that happen to these little people. They're critically ill, they need the equipment, they need the procedures, but it's how we manage those experiences that can reduce their short term and long term morbidity or complications as a result."

'You feel helpless'

She added: "Becoming a parent is a defining moment in the life of a family and how we, as clinicians, show up to these miracle moments defines us.

"I am so honoured to be part of this initiative with the team at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and Friends of the Neonatal Unit - their commitment to excellence sets them apart and establishes them as leaders in quality healthcare service."

image captionCarly and baby Ella who was born eight weeks early

Friends of the Neonatal Unit, which is part of children's charity The ARCHIE Foundation, donated the £27,000 to fund Ms Coughlin's placement in Aberdeen.

It is hoped the project will empower parents like Carly Aitken, whose baby Ella was born eight weeks early.

Carly said: "You feel a bit helpless if they're crying and originally she was in an incubator so there's not much comforting you can do.

"Anything you can do to help you really want to do it."

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