We are committed to raising awareness and making parents’ voices heard, but what we do on the ground matters just as much. We provide practical support for the whole family, both in hospital and in the community, which focusses on improving wellbeing and nurturing the development of children who’ve experienced neonatal care.
On the unit
We provide wellbeing packs to help take care of parent or carer wellbeing as they support their little one.
We provide toys and activities for siblings who are visiting, to try to help families juggling brothers and sisters with caring for your babies.
We know that one of the hardest parts of having a baby on a neonatal unit is being separated from them. To ease that, we’ve funded vCreate, a secure video messaging service that allows nurses to send families videos of their little one when they can’t be there. When they leave the unit, families can download everything, to keep as a record of their stay.
We also know it’s devastating to have empty arms, whether through separation or bereavement. We fund Heartbeat Bears for our units-a soft toy to cuddle which has a recording of baby’s heartbeat inside. This helps to ease separation anxiety, helps with bonding and breastfeeding and is a special keepsake for bereaved parents.
We know how important it can be to have someone to talk to and to know where you can reach out. Peer supporters are parents who have spent time in neonatal care, who can lend an ear to families and help talk through the challenges they are facing. Sometimes families just need to vent, or chat with someone who’s been through what they have. Peer supporters also play a vital role in signposting and referring families to other Leo’s services and provision.
In the community
Leo’s trustees are passionate about providing safe playgroups for neonatal families-it’s something we wished we had when we were discharged from hospital. We know families may not be able to attend other playgroups or baby groups because of infection risks and they might not feel as comfortable surrounded by parents and children who haven’t been through what they have. We provide solo play sessions at both Pendragon and Sunshine Wood. Families can feel safe knowing that strict cleaning procedures are followed and everyone has been through a neonatal unit so are in the same boat as you.
We provide signing classes, baby massage and baby yoga-all designed for neonatal babies and tailored to the family’s needs. It’s a great chance to socialise with other neonatal families and encourage bonding.
We fund occupational therapy sessions through Future Steps Occupational Therapy, which will aid child’s development and provide guidance to help them thrive and fulfil their potential.
We have a dedicated nurture and attunement programme which supports the relationships between parents / carers and babies. Infant mental health is as much of a priority to our team as adult mental health.
Our peer supporters provide phone, email, and face to face support-they’re a listening ear when you need one and they can help you work through what you’re currently facing.
If you need more support, we have a dedicated counselling service -our BACP registered counsellors can provide talking therapy to help process and deal with what you’ve been through.
Many parents experience symptoms of PTSD after their stay-we can offer EMDR therapy which treats the flashbacks associated with this.
Children who have been through a neonatal journey themselves or as a sibling may also need support with their mental health. Our child counsellors can help, providing child-led therapy, often revolving around play.
Our advocacy service ensures that parents / carers and their children are heard. It might be that they need help talking to the teams involved in their care, or to make sure families are getting the benefits and services you need. We can be there to talk to school, to help you fill in forms or speak on your behalf.