Friday Fast Five: Meet Daphne D'Cruz

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 Daphne D'Cruz, Senior Neonatologist Westmead Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and board member of the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre. 

What is your role in the neonatal unit? I have the incredible honour of working as a Senior Staff Specialist in Neonatology at Westmead Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I work with a team of talented professionals who care for sick newborns admitted to the NICU.  Being a neonatologist is both rewarding and challenging. As a team we see a lot of highs and lows, fortunately highs outweigh the lows. I have the pleasure of seeing them after discharge and it is very satisfying to see that most of our babies have amazing outcomes to the delight of their families.

How are you involved in the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre in GCNC?  I am on the board of directors for the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre in GCNC. Westmead NICU and GCNC are co-located in the same campus and we work collaboratively as many of the babies who need cardiac or surgical intervention are born at Westmead. For preterm infants optimal sensory environment is vital during periods of rapid brain development and NIDCAP specifically caters to a system of care and environment in NICU to support this. As a member of the board of directors I am committed to promote the training centre in GCNC and its work in neonatal units across Australasia.

In your opinion how does NIDCAP and neuroprotective care potentially benefit neonates, families and staff? As the survival of extremely preterm infants have dramatically improved the focus has shifted on ways to improve long term neurodevelopmental outcomes.  NIDCAP model of care is based on recommendations made following detailed observation of infant behaviour to minimise stress and optimise individual infant’s neurodevelopment. Studies have shown positive results in behavioural and electrophysiological brain functioning in preterm infants. The beneficial effect of NIDCAP also include shorter duration of intensive care, shorter hospital stay and better weight gain. The individualised developmental care plan gives an opportunity for staff to work with families to provide the support infants and families need. As families have great influence over the infant’s health and well –being, establishing partnership with families in neuroprotective interventions develop infant’s attachment and support parents in their role as the most important caregivers for their infant. It gives parents the confidence to continue providing care for their infant even after going home.

What would you like people to know about NIDCAP and neuroprotective care? NICU is a stressful environment and a preterm infant’s rapidly developing brain is particularly vulnerable. Sensory overstimulation or under stimulation, pain, parental separation compromise normal brain development. Neuroprotective developmentally supportive care is focussed on creating a sensory supportive environment that manages stress and pain in a soothing manner that involves staff and the whole family in their infant’s care and development. This model of care is believed to lessen the adverse environmental effects of NICU care on the brain. Therefore in our unit I work closely with a team of professionals to support and promote developmentally supportive care to our infants.

What do you hope the Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre achieves? I hope the Centre continues to promote NIDCAP by providing education, guidance and support to neonatal units that can help break down barriers in implementing neuroprotective practices for infants in their care.

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