In this section, we outline the importance of providing psychosocial support to parents and families.
Importance of psychosocial support
Parents in the NICU often feel lost and overwhelmed. Psychosocial support for families is necessary to enable them to overcome their fear and engage as a partner in the NICU care of their infant. Psychosocial support can be provided in many different ways. Most units provide some professional support for families, either through social workers or mental health workers. In addition, within FICare, opportunities need to be provided for peer-to-peer support.
Through the sharing of experiences, NICU parents help each other validate feelings, reduce isolation, and increase parents’ comfort interacting with medical professionals. The provision of space for families to congregate such as a lounge, and pump room is an important facilitator of the model. Participating in parent education programs also allows for this sharing. Peer-to-peer support may be organic if opportunities are provided for it to grow; however, it must be supported by staff.
Veteran parents can enhance this opportunity either by providing one-to-one support, participating in a parent education program, or by organising social events for parents. Click here to find out more about the role of Veteran Parents, and to access a wealth of resources to educate and support families.