Friday Fast Five - meet Gillian Kennedy

Each month we interview individuals associated with the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre and the broader NIDCAP Federation International (NFI) community, asking them five questions that explore their association with our unit and NIDCAP.

This month, meet Gillian Kennedy Speech and Language therapist and NIDCAP Trainer, University College London Hospital, LLK NIDCAP Centre.

What is your role in the neonatal setting? I work 3 days a week as a SLT utilising my neurodevelopmental experience to influence my work regarding feeding in preterm babies and high risk neonates e.g. those who have suboptimal neurological development. I also work with babies who have severe HIE and often find it difficult to be anything other than asleep or highly upset. This is so hard fr parents who are devastated by the fact that their baby is likely to have significant cognitive or motor difficulties. Working with parents can help them identify what their baby needs to achieve those ‘golden moments’ where mother/father and baby enjoy and get to know each other.  

How are you involved in NIDCAP? In my remaining dayI train professionals in NIDCAP and participate in the FINE program which is an excellent pathway to NIDCAP. The other NIDCAP professionals on the unit plus the NIDCAP ‘champion’ introduce others to this philosophy of care and its integration to care of the baby. Families are provided regular sessions at the bedside coaching and modelling neuroprotective care to staff and families.  

In your opinion how does NIDCAP and neuroprotective care potentially benefit neonates, families and staff? It helps the baby to be the best person they can be, it helps the families to understand their baby’s language and through this understanding of their baby’s strengths and sensitivities, it empowers them to be their baby’s best advocate.

What would you like people to know about NIDCAP and neuroprotective care? That NIDCAP supports babies to reach their potential as a person. People often argue that NIDCAP training is too costly, yet when offset against its impact on the baby’s brain development this argument has no justification.

What do you hope NIDCAP and NIDCAP Training Centres achieve globally? To convey that NIDCAP = brain care and to help neonatal units in their steps to adopt and implement this approach to make lives better for babies and their families.

Editor's note: The views of individuals do not represent the view of the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre.