Apunipima’s Baby One Program was delivered to a national conference this week.
Nie Sheehan and Carina Denham detailed how Baby One is improving infant health and pregnancy outcomes across 11 remote Cape York communities.
Nie, a midwife and child health nurse, and Carina, a maternal and child health worker, delivered a presentation at the 16th annual Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) conference in Perth from September 24-25.
From July this year, Apunipima’s Maternal Child Health workers attended an intensive and specialised training program and started delivering the newly developed home visiting program.
“It’s all about empowering women, Nie said.
“There is a demand for health workers and Baby One supports a holistic, family-centred model of care led by health workers to support mothers and infants from pre-pregnancy to the first 1000 days of a child’s life.
“We know that the first few years of a child’s life are when lifestyle patterns and behaviours become entrenched and we want to make generational change.”
Baby One has been built upon Apunipima’s previous model, the Baby Basket program, that provides Cape families with educational tools and resources for pregnancy, birth and infancy. Baby Basket still continues and involves giving mothers, and mothers-to-be, three baskets delivered at three intervals: first presentation, in Cairns prior to baby’s birth and when the baby is six months old.
Last year 160 babies were born in the 11 communities that Apunipima services. The Baby One program includes a visiting schedule and contents of the Baby Baskets and delivers about 28 visits per family over 2 years and 10 months.
Carina said Baby One is an integral part of education for mothers, especially for first time mothers.
“Child and maternal services are crucial as there are no birthing services in Cape York.
Expectant mums have to travel to Cairns at 36 weeks and await child birth. It’s important we give them as much education as they need as first-time mums usually rely on the experience of their friends or family.”
The key difference between the Baby One Program and other home visiting programs is that Baby One is a health-worker led, empowerment initiative and potentially sustainable through Medicare billing.