The Early Birth Association is proud to offer a wide variety of help and support to the babies, families and staff on the TMBU and SCBU at PRH.
We initially started off as a small charity supporting parents on the units by supplying tea, coffee and biscuits. We then went on to supplying blankets, muslins and wash bags. With increasing numbers of babies needing neonatal services, we saw the opportunity to do even more to help. Over the years, people have become more aware of us, and the greater need for continual support for our local hospitals units. With more fundraising and donations received we are now able to offer a diverse and continual range of help and support for everyone on the units.
We give a huge thank you to our supporters, volunteers and people who donate and fundraise for us for making all this possible. We have built up excellent relationships with staff on both units over many years, so that they can inform us how we can best support them to do their jobs and to help the babies and families under their care. We are able to achieve these things through fundraising events and donations and the time, effort and dedication of our supporters and volunteers.
We work closely with the TMBU and PRH teams to support them by providing the vital equipment they need for their life-saving work. This includes a range of items such as a Transport Resuscitaire, incubators, cooling mats, and breast pumps. We have funded a new High Frequency Oscillation Ventilator to help babies with severe breathing difficulties.
We helped to provide a new transport incubator so babies can be safely transported around the hospital if required for tests or surgery. This was also supported by a generous donation from the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust.
We have also funded a CO2 monitor to help ensure the babies who are receiving help with their breathing have the correct blood gas levels.
We have supplied phototherapy units to treat babies with jaundice, milk/feeding pumps, milk warmers and many other monitors, scanners and pieces of vital equipment.
The local health authorities of East Sussex, Brighton & Hove and West Sussex pay for the service provided. However, high quality medical and nursing treatment is very expensive and donations are essential to help buy additional equipment that the units require.
As of June 2020, we have also funded the vCreate video system to work alongside iPads that we bought for the units. Together, they help parents stay better connected to their babies when they are unable to be there, which is particularly needed during the Coronavirus pandemic. This helps families by facilitating the sharing of updates, milestones and precious memories of babies to parents unable to be at their side. Administered by unit staff, the technology allows for the sharing of secure video updates to parents, minimising separation anxiety and increasing mental wellbeing. It also allows for health and care updates to be shared as short video recordings, building over time to create a secure online video diary, which can then be downloaded and kept by the family when their child leaves hospital care. Staff on both units have had training to use the system and ensure that parents and their families are able to benefit from precious moments that would otherwise go unshared. For more information on vCreate please see the news article on our website.
Support whilst on the units
We help provide practical and emotional support to parents and families by running regular coffee mornings where EBA representatives provide coffee, tea and biscuits and the opportunity for parents to be able to sit and talk about their experiences on the units if they wish to do so. We ensure that the parents’ kitchens are stocked up with tea, coffee, biscuits, fruit and basic grocery supplies. We supply emergency snack and travel bags for parents to take with them if their baby needs to be transferred to a different hospital by the Transport Team.
We make sure the units have a stock of wash bag kits for parents who find themselves staying overnight without anything. This ensures they have toiletry and hygiene items so they can just focus on staying close by their baby. We also provide new bedding for the parent’s bedrooms on the units. We have also funded new breast pumps for expressing mum’s to use on the units and/or at Ronald McDonald House accommodation. We provide EBA cool bags to the mums on units to allow them to transport their milk from home to the hospital in a practical way especially during the summer months.
We like to provide parents with various special ways of recording memories of their and their baby’s time on the units. Recent keepsake items we have been able to supply the units with has been milestone cards which have proved very popular. We specially designed these for parents on the units to help record and celebrate the precious and unique milestones their baby’s reach, such a first feed, first cuddle, first time wearing clothes and gaining weight.
We are also pleased to be able to keep the units stocked up with with art and craft supplies and card making items, which allows the staff to make a precious memento from the baby to parents and other family members. These are often given on particular special occasions, for example Valentine’s Days, Mothers Day, Easter, Fathers Day, Christmas etc, and for family birthdays. These small gestures mean so much to families in hospitals on special days, and become treasured keepsakes from the baby’s time on the unit. The staff also use ink pads we provide to stamp baby’s hand/foot print and create a memory card for parents. We also provide wool for blankets and shawls, some of which are for bereaved parents so they will have a keepsake.
We also provide chocolates on Valentine’s Day for parents and staff on the units, and Easter eggs, and Christmas stockings and gifts for parents, babies and siblings on the units at these special times of year.
We are very happy to announce that we are now fully funding The Wishing Well Music for Health programme for musicians to play live music within the special care and high dependency nurseries at TMBU and at PRH, and this scheme seems to be a great success with very positive feedback from both parents and staff.
Creating warm and welcoming environments
In association with 1st CENTRAL Insurance in Haywards Heath who kindly have offered us a lot of charitable support, we have been able to refurbish the parents room at the SCBU in PRH, including buying new furniture and decorating the walls with bright and beautiful sunflowers in memory of one of the committee member’s little girl, Tilly. We have also been able to give the Milk Room at PRH SCBU a makeover, to make it a more relaxing environment for mum’s to express in.
We also helped with the refurbishment and redesign of TMBU in Spring 2019. We pledged £60,000 for equipment needed for the new and refurbished unit. We also funded the new dedicated TMBU Quiet Room and assisted in the redesign of this much needed space on the unit.
The Early Birth Association is also pleased to be able to provide, on an ongoing basis, comfort items for the babies and families on the unit to help ease their experiences of neonatal care. This includes things such as incubator (Budgie) covers to help reduce the lights and noise of the units for the babies, Cuski nests to position and support the baby’s, incubator bonnets, blankets, muslins, clothing and other nursery items, and bereavement items such as hand and foot print kits and keepsake shawls and blankets. We also supply laundry bags and memory bags for parents to keep when they leave the unit. These are mainly kindly made and supplied by Jane Godsmark at Tilly’s Busy Bees. Jane is Grandmother to Tilly who was looked after on TMBU and Mum to Jemma Roberts, Tilly and Jasper’s Mum who is one of our current Committee Members and Trustees. Jane was also a long standing Committee Member and Trustee for the charity herself and we are so appreciative of all the work she has done and continues to do to support us. We have had received lots of lovely feedback from staff and parents that this personal touch these comfort items give really means a lot to the families on the unit.
More recently, The EBA has also been able to provide direct support to the staff teams working on the units, by providing funding for a counselling service for staff called The Mind Clinic. We have had feedback that this has been found to have a clear and measurable effect on staff wellbeing in the workplace.
We have also helped fund and support important research projects that have direct clinical benefits for the babies treated on the unit. This includes the Advanced Resuscitation of Newborn Infant Course (ARNI). We received very positive feedback from Dr Cassie Lawn Consultant Neonatologist at Trevor Mann Baby Unit on the funding The EBA provided for equipment to set up this course. Dr Lawn says;
“The Advanced Resuscitation of Newborn Infant Course (ARNI) is a national course that was developed in conjunction with national neonatal medical and nursing experts and the Resus Council UK. TMBU have run this course for 4 years in Brighton thanks to the invaluable funding that The EBA gave us for set up costs of £10,579.01. The course has been hugely well received and trains and keeps senior doctors and nurses up to date in advanced resuscitation skills in the newborn infant. The course also concentrates on developing human factors and team working as well as teaching technical skills. From the initial set up on the TMBU, ARNI development has also progressed nationally and there are now over ten course centres in the UK and this training receives wide feedback across the UK which is universally positive. Training in the course enables individuals to better deal with rare emergencies and improve the team working, not only in emergency situations but in all aspects of neonatal care. A strong emphasis in ARNI courses is on how to have conversations with parents in difficult situations and we develop the course in conjunction with advice from BLISS and parent representatives.”
EBA members also contribute to the Parent Forum meetings held regularly on TMBU where we are able to discuss research projects and things that directly affect the families on the unit. The TMBU staff are always very grateful for this feedback, and we are thankful for another opportunity to be able to get our voices heard and help. You can join us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Early Birth Association are registered on Virgin Money Giving,
where you are able to make a donation directly to us and set up your
own fundraising page for any events that you do.
For further advice and support please also see the useful links and information at the bottom of the website.