While researching Prematurity Awareness Month, I found this wonderful website called Hand to Hold. They provide great support and resources for parents who currently have an infant or infants in the NICU. They also provide opportunities for former NICU families to offer support and encouragement to those currently going through the experience. Not only that, but they have a section where they interview different healthcare professionals that families might meet during their hospitalization, and they actually interviewed a Child Life Specialist! I was a little disappointed that they focused on re-admission into to PICU, instead of talking about the support Child Life Specialists provide to families while they are in the NICU, but hey, it’s a start!
As a CCLS (Certified Child Life Specialist) supporting my hospital’s NICU, I provided sibling support, education, and supervised bedside visits, as well as parent education on how to continue providing support at home. I also provided sibling and family member bereavement support in the unfortunate case that it was needed. I did a lot of work organizing and encouraging community donations- explaining what was allowed and what wasn’t, what would be helpful or not, etc. As a sibling of a former NICU patient, this unit of the hospital holds a special place in my heart. I know my family would have really benefitted from a great website like Hand to Hold. Alas, there was no internet way back then- but I sure am grateful that we have it now! I hope you find it helpful for the families you know, too.