September 19, 2018
TEESSIDE mum, Lottie King has created a charity in memory of her son Leo, to help more families who face the neonatal journey.
Leo’s, which launches across the country and specifically, the region, today is set to offer an array of support services for parents who find themselves needing neonatal care.
Lottie, who lost her son Leo just over three years ago, saw the desperate need for continuous care as families navigate the traumatic journey when having a premature or sick baby.
Leo’s will offer targeted care which seeks to compliment NHS care as well as plug the gaps which the NHS can’t fill. The charity’s national reach but local focus will provide much needed services, including peer support, counselling and extended family support on neonatal units as well as antenatal support and community care for families following discharge.
It also plans to raise awareness of premature births, and the signs and symptoms of preterm labour in a bid to help reduce not only the preterm birth rate, but the neonatal death rate too.
Acknowledging that the neonatal journey does not begin at admission to the neonatal unit, nor does it end at discharge, the charity plans to work with maternity, neonatal and community services across The James Cook University Hospital, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Neonatal Transfer Service, to not only care for families but medical staff too. Leo’s will also work alongside the Northern Neonatal Network.
The charity boasts a multi-skilled board of trustees including parents and grandparents with neonatal experience, award-winning neonatal nurses and midwives, a paediatric consultant, paediatric occupational therapist, business manager, counsellor and project manager which allows the team at Leo’s to provide well rounded and exceptional care.
Leo’s also has a wide-spanning advisory board that works closely with the charity to deliver initiatives.
Lottie, said: “I was in the devastating situation of having twins where one didn’t make it home with us, and one did.
“In the last three years I have seen and learned an awful lot and realised that actually my neonatal journey didn’t start when we had Leo and it’s still ongoing with Oska now.
“I wanted to acknowledge this, and acknowledge that parents need help from day one, whether that’s in a maternity assessment unit, in a scan room or in the delivery suite. For so many of us, the journey may never end.
“I still deal with the grief of losing my son daily, and I deal with Oska’s ongoing health problems which aren’t improving.
“This charity is the legacy for Leo, he propelled us on to this journey of baby loss, prematurity and neonatal care and I needed to channel that in a positive way.
We have such an exceptional board of dedicated parents and professionals who are all highly-skilled and educated in their field. Knowing we can be there for families is just wonderful.”
Mandy Marsden, trustee and preemie parent, said: “Through our own journeys, we’ve made friends or met other families who have gone through similar experiences. We all say the same thing, things are missing to help parents – and they’re always the same provisions which are missing.
“We pooled together everything we knew as parents and staff with their own experiences and came up with the distinct and extensive level of care Leo’s will offer.”
Kathryn Carruthers, trustee, preemie parent and Allied Health Professional Lead, said: “Leo’s recognises the long-term impact a neonatal admission can have on child health and well-being with aims for prevention, early intervention strategies and support during childhood transitions such as development of skills for school readiness.
“It aims to not only benefit families in person but become a hub of research and innovation driving neonatal care.
“Topical and insightful conversations are already happening weekly on the charity’s Twitter #NICUhour each Wednesday 8-9pm which we encourage everyone to join”.
Since the team began planning back in April, Leo’s has already been gratefully received by families and medical teams who want Leo’s on their wards.
Lynne Patterson, Neonatal Nurse Consultant at the James Cook University Hospital, said:
“The staff on the neonatal unit at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are very excited at the prospect of working with Leo’s Charity and their amazing team. It will be incredible to work with those who are completely focussed on making things better for parents of preterm and sick babies in the neonatal units across Darlington as well as north and south of the Tees. The fact that they will also be lending support to the staff who work closely with these families is testament to their holistic approach and their inclusive attitude and we welcome it with open arms.”
Martyn Boyd, Manager of the Northern Neonatal Network, said
“The Network is delighted to support what Leo’s are seeking to do in the neonatal units across the Tees and beyond. Lottie King has put an impressive Board together and laid out some exciting plans for the various ways that Leo’s is looking to support neonatal care in them and we have already helped facilitate discussions and their initial work across various NHS Trusts that provide neonatal care, and this will continue as their programme is developed and agreed.
“We know that parents in particular often really struggle in so many ways when they have premature and sick babies, often requiring many months of complex care and any additional support that can be provided to help them through very challenging times is always welcome. We are also very hopeful that the plans to support the neonatal staff is one a totally new area that will be extremely beneficial as this is an area that is sadly overlooked and I am sure all those involved in neonatal care will not only appreciate what Leo’s is looking to do and achieve, but welcome Lottie and her team and work with them to give the very best care possible and better understand and meet the needs of parents and families across the region. We look forward to seeing the work of Leo’s as it progresses, how we can best support them as a Network and together with the other existing organisations and charities who already enhance neonatal care, collaboratively provide an excellent level of care and parent support in new ways.”