Explaining intensive care through colouring in

A new colouring book is set to help siblings of critically-ill newborns better understand the intensive care environment.

The colouring book, titled “My Colourful Journey”, was created by the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care as a way to explain the journey through intensive care while also giving siblings a space for them to explore their thoughts and feelings, in what can often be an overwhelming environment.

The book follows the story of a baby possum, who represents the sibling, and introduces siblings to the hospital and critical care setting.

Other baby Australian animals are used throughout the book to explain important parts of the hospital journey including why it’s important to wash your hand and why quiet voices need to be used when around babies in hospital.  

Research has shown that siblings of critically-ill babies are often more open to communication and are more interactive if they are directly involved in their brother or sister’s hospitalisation, which is what made this project so important.

“We recognise siblings as a really important part of the families and babies we care for and wanted to create a resource that acknowledged their role in their baby brother or sister’s hospital journey,” Nadine Griffiths, Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care, said.

The innovative project is a result of a joint collaboration between staff from the Grace Centre and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and was generously funded by Tiny Miracles. It also received special support from Narelle Holden, Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Westmead Hospital and Darug Elder, Stephen Porter, who provided the dreamtime illustration.

“This project really was a team effort but it was two of our nurses, Jill and Belinda, who brought the idea to life,” Nadine said.

Jill and Belinda took on the project in their own time, designing and authoring the colouring book and it’s so wonderful to see their hard work come to fruition.”

“We hope this colouring book will now become something our families will all find really valuable when they are on the ward.”

“My Colourful Journey” was officially launched at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead this morning, with special guests Grace the Wombat, Peaches the Joey and Daisy the Possum from the Australian Reptile Park.