Newborn Intensive Care (Grace Centre), The Children's Hospital at Westmead


Phone: (02) 7825 2715


About our service

The Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care is a specialised unit where more than 600 premature newborns, neonates, and critically ill infants with complex medical conditions, such as serious cardiac and surgical disorders are treated.

Originally named after Grace Bros Staff Aid to Charities, the Grace Centre is not a maternity ward. It is a specialised centre providing tailored care to the medical or surgical needs of the state’s sickest infants—some as young as 23 weeks gestation.

Babies who are born at the maternity ward in Westmead Hospital can be immediately transferred to Grace. Other babies are flown to the nursery within hours of birth from across NSW, ACT and Pacific Rim region for urgent life-saving care not available anywhere else in the state.

We are the only accredited NIDCAP (Newborn Individualised Developmental Care and Assessment Program) training centre in Australia and lead the way in neonatal developmental care.

The wellbeing of parents is a high priority and round-the-clock support is provided. To help support families during their admission to the NICU we have a Family Support Program.

Handbook for parents and carers

We've put together a range of resources to help parents and carers navigate their time with us. The Grace Centre Handbook is filled with useful information we hope will make your time in Grace as comfortable as possible.

Your time in Grace

Referral to Grace

How are babies referred to the Grace Centre?

  • Over half of the babies cared for in the Grace Centre each year are referred to our service before the end of your pregnancy. 
  • If your baby requires surgery or support from The Children's Hospital after they are born your obstetrician will refer you to an appropriate surgeon or treating team at the hospital, they will arrange an appointment to meet you ideally prior to the baby's birth and possibly arrange some tests.
  • Your obstetrician may also refer your care to a different hospital than your original planned delivery hospital closer to The Children's Hospital. This occurs as some baby's require transfer to the NICU as soon as possible after birth. Your obstetrician and team will discuss this with you in detail. 
  • We work with your obstetricians and midwives prior to your baby's delivery notifying our team in the Grace Centre of your upcoming delivery and plans after birth. One of the teams we work closely with is the PEARLs team at Westmead (adult) Hospital.
  • The PEARLs team, your surgeons or treating team and Grace NICU develop a plan to identify how quickly after birth your baby will be transferred to the Grace Centre. This is dependent on a number of things including how much help your baby will need after they are born and how quickly they need to be treated by our team.
  • Ideally you will get to cuddle your baby and have some photos taken prior to transfer, this may not be possible for all families. The team in the birth unit and your midwife will talk to you more about the plan after birth.
  • If you have birthed your baby at Westmead (adult) Hospital a team of doctors, nurses and your partner will accompany your baby over to the Grace Centre. Our unit is approximately a 20-minute walk from the birth unit through internal hospital corridors. 

Your stay with us

Arrival in Grace 

Our team will meet your baby and determine what treatment they need. At this point, some specialist teams such as heart doctors or surgeons may meet your baby and do some tests. If the baby's mum is still in the birth unit, we will take some photos and provide your partner with an update. We may also speak to the baby's mum on the phone.

As soon as it is safe (this is determined by your midwives and team in the birth unit) you will be bought over to the Grace Centre by wheelchair to spend time with your baby. In the next few days, you will come over to the Grace Centre more and more as you recover after the baby's birth. 

Resources for parents and carers

We've put together a range of resources to help parents and carers navigate their time with us. The Grace Centre Handbook is filled with useful information we hope will make your time in Grace as comfortable as possible. 

Check out the handbook to access information including:

  • Being with your baby
  • Feeding options
  • Parent and carer support 
  • Going home
  • Patient stories 
  • Additional resources 

Collaborating in care

The Grace Centre shares a close working relationship with all specialty departments in the Hospital. Close collaboration with our colleagues in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Heart Centre for Children is critical especially when treating babies with cardiac conditions who need joint care and expertise across teams.

Our close relationship with surgical teams has dramatically improved patient survival and enhanced the long-term developmental outcomes of critically ill neonates. Improvements include:  

  • The DAISy (Development After Infant Surgery) world-first study involved more than 780 babies and their families, surgeons and other healthcare professionals. Recommendations led to enrolment of all high-risk infants in multi-disciplinary clinics, early identification of issues and initiation of early intervention strategies.
  • Working with respiratory specialists to look at why some babies stop, or have difficulty breathing, and the resultant impact on their nervous systems.

Continuing care

Being discharged from Grace is a happy, though sometimes stressful, time for families.

We work closely with families to ensure that they are well prepared and can confidently and comfortably care for their baby at home. This includes careful instruction on how to use specialist equipment and, if required, how to prepare and give medications.

Further advice and helpful tips to assist with your transition home can be found in the Grace Centre Handbook

Grace development clinic

With the increasing complexity of conditions being treated in the Grace Centre combined with improving survival rates, a demand for follow-up support and community care has emerged. Although the average length of stay for a baby admitted to the Grace Centre is 12 days; ongoing care and support continues long after discharge. Two thirds of babies treated in Grace return to the follow-up clinic. 

The Grace Development Clinic is a specialist clinic—available by referral only—for babies after they leave the Grace Centre. This includes babies who have significant neurological problems, seizures, meningitis, lack of oxygen to the brain, brain haemorrhage, or who have cardiac disorders, undergone surgery, breathing abnormalities, or have metabolic disorders that may cause a risk to their development. 

Because these babies have complex medical conditions, a developmental program is started during admission and the follow-up clinic team will make arrangements for support after discharge.

The Grace Development Clinic focuses on neuro-developmental assessments, early detection and referral to early intervention, and ongoing support designed to help these babies reach their developmental potential. 

Appointment schedule

  • Three months: The occupational therapist and physiotherapist administer a General Movements Assessment, and a Bayley Scales Assessment to measure the level of development in cognitive, motor, and language domains.
  • 12 months and three years: Repeat Bayley Assessment and medical examination. For families who don’t live locally, our specialist team will make contact with the baby’s local NICU, GP and/or paediatrician and will link the family with community health services including Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Early Intervention programs or other diagnostic services closer to home.

Acute Review clinic

Designed to facilitate early discharge from the Grace Centre, our nurses work closely with parents to help them transition smoothly to home and into the support of their local community services. Before your baby is discharged, your initial clinic review will be arranged to provide ongoing support with weight management and feeding advice including linking with lactation and dietician services as required. The Acute Review Clinic attend to blood work, ongoing review of wounds and clinical assessment for the period between discharge and your transition to community health services.

Our research

The Grace Research Unit is a lead academic and clinical neonatal research unit. Our research aims to diagnose neurodevelopmental risk as early as the first few weeks of life to prevent and reduce subsequent infant disability.

Last updated Friday 9th February 2024

Patient and family support

A smiling Aboriginal family.
Our Aboriginal Hospital Liaison and Education officers play an important role in the care and welfare of and advocacy for Aboriginal patients and families, helping ensure a responsive and respectful patient journey.
A young girl sits on her mother's lap on a hostpital bed.
We can arrange a free interpreter for you. Interpreters are available for over 50 languages. Tell us which language you speak when your child is admitted, or let your nurse know.
A mother holds her baby as she uses her smartphone.
The Cartula Health app helps manage and inform you about your healthcare journey at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. You can organise your appointments and hospital documents all in one place!