At times in need, an understanding ear can be a saviour – but establishing those connections can be incredibly difficult. To assist, a community-focussed app, NICUchat, launched in January to provide an easily-accessible network to families with newborns facing challenges with prematurity and sickness.
Miracle Babies Foundation, a national not-for-profit organisation operating since 2005, developed NICUchat with the support from Real Insurance to enable parents to connect with and draw support from others facing similar situations; like a threatened pregnancy, their stay in hospital with a sick or premature newborn, their journey home and beyond.
Melinda Cruz, CEO at Miracle Babies Foundation, said: “A premature or sick baby isn’t something you plan for, and we regularly see families struggling without the emotional support they require when thrust into a very challenging situation. NICUchat allows users to search for ‘friends’ to connect with 24x7, based on the state they live in, their current status (pregnant, in hospital or at home) and whether or not they are currently online. Users can then messages with other people in the same situation.”
There are 22 hospitals across Australia with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Every year 45,000 babies are born premature or sick with many families coming from a large catchment area, without support networks to draw on.
New mother Naomi, based in Hobart, knows first-hand how challenging this can be. Her son Jeremiah was born in January 2014 with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) and spent 64 days in the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) NICU. She recalled: “The NICU experience can be very isolating. No matter how many supportive friends as family you have around you, very few really understand what you are going through. I knew from 20 weeks that my son may not survive and I would have loved something like this app to connect with others experiencing the same struggles and emotions.”
While the existing Miracle Babies online community offers an open forum, NICUchat will now allow parents to connect in a community-led but also private and secure environment, without having to share their personal details. Parents and supporters can share their progress and stories in a unique place, in real-time.
Real Insurance partnered with the Miracle Babies Foundation to provide the funding to develop NICUchat with the aim to protect the quality of people’s lives and provide a private community support network.
For more information, please visit: www.realinsurance.com.au/about-us/sponsorships/miracle-babies-foundation
* Miracle Babies Foundation is proud to provide Australia’s first comprehensive listing of all 22 Newborn Intensive Care Units, with the support of the NSW Government.
Real Insurance is an award-winning Australian insurer, with a goal to protect the quality of people’s lives. Real Insurance was awarded the 2014 Highly Commended Trusted Brand Award in the Life and Funeral Insurance categories, voted for by Australian consumers. The company has been in the Australian market since 2005 with product offerings in car, home, life, income, pet, funeral, travel and bike insurance. Real Insurance is a trading name of Hollard Financial Services Pty Ltd.