Southmead Hospital Charity has funded a new flat for parents of premature and sick babies treated at Southmead to enable them to be closer to their children.
The Hospital’s 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.
Southmead Hospital Charity is funding 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.
One of the room is for on-call staff to stay in and there is a communal kitchen and living area with 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.”
Michelle Jackson, NICU Matron, said: “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.”
Elizabeth Bond, head of fundraising at Southmead Hospital Charity, said: “We are pleased to be funding this wonderful new accommodation for NICU parents.
“It is so important for the wellbeing of parents who are facing a very stressful and emotional time to be able to stay close to their babies in comfortable and welcoming accommodation.
“The charity has a huge community of fundraisers who are dedicated to supporting the NICU at Southmead Hospital in recognition of the team’s great work and I know they will really get behind this project to ensure that even more parents can benefit.”
Staff and parents at Southmead Hospital celebrated world prematurity day by decorating hearts and circles and writing personalised messages for babies and their families.
Along with buildings across the country, sections of the unit were also decorated purple to raise awareness of the premature babies and the work at Southmead Hospital’s NICU.
You can donate to NICU to support the parent’s accommodation or other projects by visiting southmeadhospitalcharity.org.uk.