Baby Vaka Hafoka spent 175 days in the neonatal service at Middlemore’s Kidz First Hospital.
Vaka and his parents Ilaisia and Losaline, were at their son’s bedside throughout his stay, from the time he was born 16 weeks premature last November.
And never far away was a new kind of specialist known as a Family Liaison Nurse, a role specifically crafted to provide continuity of care for new-borns and their whānau.
The two Family Liaison Nurses on the ward, Abby Parsons and Anevili Purcell are a vital link in the chain of neonatal care.
Nurses come and go on their various shifts, which can be bewildering for families, but the Family Liaison Nurses are always there – advocating for pēpē and whānau, advising on care in and beyond the hospital, and providing translation help for Māori, Pasifika and Asian people.
We followed the team’s journey with the Hafoka family, including an emotional reunion with Nurse Abby at Vaka’s home, where he is thriving.
Abby says: “Sometimes it was just someone to chat to, to check in, make sure they were doing OK. Things like the family meetings, and interpreters to help them understand the medical needs of their baby.”
A delighted mum, Losaline told us: “It was a hard time for us to stay there with our son for so long. We’re thankful for them, and also the doctors for what they’ve done for us.”
Middlemore’s neonatal unit care for about 1400 babies every year, and it’s expected that more Family Liaison Nurses will be appointed in the future.