Baby Ava  

Baby Ava* is a newborn baby recently discharged from Women’s and Children’s Hospital into foster care as her birth parents are not able to care for her for complex reasons.

Her aunt, who is caring for her, was worried about her noisy breathing and feeding. Ava was seen soon after discharge by a dedicated healthcare team at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital – the Cocoon team. Her aunt found this reassuring as the Cocoon team was aware of her birth history, what happened during pregnancy for her mother and any health conditions she may be at risk of developing.

The Cocoon team cares for Ava in partnership with her aunt and Ava’s Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) nurse to monitor her growth and development. She accesses Allied Health services at the Hospital quickly, and information is shared amongst her healthcare workers and other providers to allow them to work together to support her healthcare needs effectively.

Ava and her aunt access support from the Infant Mental Health Clinician as part of the Cocoon team. This further supports her aunt in caring for Ava, who is sometimes unsettled. Ava has a complex family background that can potentially impact her in complex ways. The Infant Mental Health Clinician supports her aunt in understanding how best to help her and provides support for any care transitions Ava may experience as a young infant.

Wrap-around care for vulnerable babies.

The WCH Foundation Cocoon Program is a dedicated clinic for babies under 12 months, like Ava who are both medically vulnerable and in foster care, or at risk of entering foster care. This is the pilot program’s first year.

Babies and their caregivers will receive support from a specialised team in one clinic rather than care-givers needing to attend multiple appointments on different days. It is hoped that this approach will improve the overall care experience for families and care-givers by meeting an infant’s emotional, physical, and mental health care needs.

Dr Amy Keir is a Consultant Neonatologist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the lead Neonatal Paediatrician who will be part of the Cocoon Program.

She says, “The program aims to provide a cocoon around babies in foster care so that they can easily access a coordinated team to meet their healthcare needs.”

The Cocoon team comprises a specialised Clinical Coordinator, a Neonatal Paediatrician, a General Paediatrician, an Infant Mental Health Clinician and a Senior Physiotherapist.

“The idea is that all the health care providers are together and can look after the baby in partnership. We’re also able to build connections with all of the other care-givers and providers that might be in their life,” Dr Keir says.

“The importance of the program is to provide one of the most vulnerable cohorts of babies in South Australia the highest possible coordinated health care in those critical early months of their life.”

By partipating in Challenge 21, you are helping support kids like Ava to have the best chance at a healthy, happy life.

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