A home away from home for parents of premature and sick babies

Having a child in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is one of the toughest things for a parent to face, and is a time when comfort is needed more than ever.

Thanks to your support, we have recently been able to fund a new flat for parents of premature and sick babies treated at Southmead Hospital to enable them to be closer to their children.

The announcement comes to mark World Prematurity Day on November 17 – a global health day to raise awareness of premature birth and the health issues faced by babies and children who are born too early.

Our Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a regional specialist centre which means that babies born prematurely or with medical conditions including neurological issues from across the region are treated there.

It often means that parents are a long way from home and face many months travelling to and from hospital.

Due to the incredible generosity of our supporters, we are able to fund the annual rental and maintenance costs of the flat along with furnishings.

The newly-refurbished flat on Southmead Road has six en-suite bedrooms in total, with five double rooms for parents of babies being cared for on the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at Southmead Hospital.

“The new accommodation provides a real home from home atmosphere which is so important for parents who spend their days on a busy neo-natal ward, yet they are only a few minutes’ walk from the hospital.

“We do all we can to help our parents through what can be a difficult and anxious time and our new flat will make a huge difference to their journey with us.”

Michelle Jackson, NICU Matron at Southmead Hospital

The flat will also provided a room for on-call staff to stay in, with a communal kitchen and living area as well as an outside courtyard space.

There is a requirement for North Bristol NHS Trust to provide accommodation for parents of babies who are being treated in NICU long term and who live outside of the Bristol area.

Heidi and Elliott Brand’s son Ethan was born in December 2017 at 25 weeks weighing 790 grams after Heidi suffered with severe pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy.

While Ethan was cared for in NICU the couple, from Taunton, initially stayed in a single bed room in Monks Park House on the Southmead Hospital site.

They were one of the first people to move in to the new accommodation on Southmead Road earlier this year.

“It has been a really hard time, and if you had a difficult day on the unit you would just be going back to sit in a little room with a bed, sharing a bathroom, which wasn’t pleasant.

“This new accommodation is incredible, it feels like home. It’s great to be able to go and make your own food, do some washing and unwind somewhere.”

Heidi and Elliott Brand

You can support the work of NICU in treating and caring for pre-term and unwell babies by donating or setting up a regular gift.

Thank you for your support – it makes a huge difference to our patients, their families and our staff.

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