The physiotherapy department at QCH is helping to lead the way in establishing developmentally-supportive care for sick infants and their families from Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) through to the general wards. Developmentally-supportive care refers to the delivery of medical, nursing and allied health treatment in a way that puts the infant and family in the centre of this care, minimises stress on the infant and supports infant development as best as possible while they are in hospital. By supporting infants in this way, we can help to improve their developmental skills which can improve the chance of development and academic success in childhood.
A multidisciplinary approach, consisting of medical, nursing, allied health, consumers and volunteer services is being used in key clinical areas of PICU, cardiac and babies wards to target infants most at-risk for developmental challenges. This has included undertaking a review of current developmental care processes, creating targeted developmental education for staff and families and changing the ward environments to support positive infant experiences by adding toys, play areas and books. Once established, these resources and practises will be able to be transferred to other clinical areas where care is provided to infants at high risk of developmental deprivation, delay or difficulty. Physiotherapy has also been a key contributor to the development and implementation of the long-term cardiac developmental pathway, which promotes developmental screening throughout childhood for children who have open heart surgery in their first year of life.