“Nurses are the backbone of neonatal intensive care”

To put it simply, the role of the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care is to care for sick babies but the work done in this unit is far more than can be summarised in one sentence. In reality, care is just the beginning.

The team in Grace pride themselves on going above and beyond for their patients and families, always striving to find new and improved ways to not only treat a patient’s medical condition but ways to provide better comfort and support to the baby, parents and siblings alike, which is just as important, if not more so, in the healing process.

Much of this exceptional care is led by the nurses and this week, as we celebrate International Nurses Day, it is important that we highlight just how big of a difference this makes.

Fittingly, this week, the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care has had two of its nurses, Priya Govindaswamy and Nadine Griffiths, internationally recognised in prestigious medical publications for their research into the vital role parents have when their baby is in intensive care.

Priya’s research titled, “Fathers’ needs in a surgical neonatal intensive care unit: Assuring the other parent”, which was published in Plos One, identified that reassurance of fathers is a priority, particularly around their baby’s pain and comfort. Fathers are often overlooked around the time of birth and when a baby is unwell but this research highlights their desire to be actively involved in their baby’s care and the need for greater recognition of their role as parents.

Priya's research has reinforced the importance of supporting fathers of critically-ill newborns and will help shift approaches to care in neonatal intensive care units right across the country to ensure that fathers have a voice.

Similarly, Nadine’s research titled, “The Evolution of an Interdisciplinary Developmental Round in a Surgical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit”, which was published in Advances in Neonatal Care, investigated the importance of engaging parents in the NICU to overcome barriers to parent-infant interactions and help improve the developmental outcomes after discharge from hospital. Through implementing developmental rounds, a strategy that incorporates both the multi-disciplinary clinical team and the family, the baby’s neurodevelopment was able to be supported and families were able to feel in control of their child’s care.

The incredible achievements of both Priya and Nadine have showcased what can be achieved by nurses, especially when we, as medical professionals, foster their leadership capabilities. They have both shown that when given this, the opportunities are boundless.  

Innovation is part of what nurses do. Nurses who soar are those with the insight, drive and passion to improve care for patients and their families. We are so proud to work with such skilled nurses who are the backbone of neonatal intensive care and without whom our work would be impossible.

Our nurses are there at the bedside and provide the main interface for the experience of babies and their families. They are the compassionate caring face of health and are paving the way for the future.

Professor Nadia Badawi, AM Medical Director and Dr Himanshu Popat, Clinical Lead

Co-heads of the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care