Families the focus of critical care changes at CHW

Born at just 24 weeks, weighing only 590 grams, and measuring 30 centimetres long, Matilda had a huge fight ahead of her.  

In her first four weeks of life, Matilda was already battling severe respiratory issues when she was diagnosed with acute renal failure.  

Emergency surgery saved her life, but Matilda spent the next four and a half months under the care of Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) staff. Her Mum, Tracey, experienced many of her daughter’s firsts –cuddles, feeds and baths – in the NICU.

It was all about taking everything one day at a time and facing each challenge, and there were many," Matilda's Mum, Tracey, said.  

"(I told) myself each day that Matilda was in the absolute best place she could be, being cared for by a world-class team who were going above and beyond."  

How will the NICU better support families like Matilda's?   

The new NICU will support parents to have more autonomy in their baby's care - through the design and size of patient rooms and the inclusion of additional amenities.  

On level eight of the future Paediatric Services Building (PSB), the unit will include single-patient bedrooms fitted with a carer zone, including an overnight bed and feeding chair. 

"There will be space and opportunities for the family to be with their baby and, hence, become more involved with their care," NICU Co-Head Dr Himanshu Popat said.  

"This is very important for the developmental outcomes of their babies."  

Experiencing the normal in an intensive care setting is what we try to achieve with these families. First baths, first cuddles, all these things in a safe environment," Clinical Nurse Consultant Nadine Griffiths explained.    

Shared facilities like lounge rooms, kitchens, showers, a laundry and an outdoor area will be available to families on the floor.  

The family-focused design has been enhanced by community consultation, with hospital families providing input at each stage of the design process and bereaved parents giving their unique perspectives. 

What's planned for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)?    

Spaces that promote natural light and privacy are among PICU features designed to support families' vital role in their child's care. 

The future PICU, on level seven of the PSB, will have bed spaces that can be adapted into single patient rooms and carer zones around the bedside.  

Nurse Manager Wendy Stephen said the layout would change how clinicians work and collaborate while better supporting the needs of families.  

The design has got a specific area for the parent or carer," said Nurse Manager Wendy Stephen.  

"It's also about maintaining safety. We need to be able to always see the patient and have that ability to go around the bed space if we need to act in an emergency," Wendy added.  

Private family meeting rooms, food preparation areas, and accessible technology are among the features hoped to make it easier for families to experience normality at the PICU.   

The unit will also have an adjoining outdoor terrace area with access to power and gas to allow oxygen-reliant patients to use the space - details families advocated for during community consultation processes.  

For more information about the redevelopment go to https://westmeadkidsredevelopment.health.nsw.gov.au