Apunipima Pepi-pod Program Wins National Nursing Award
The Apunipima Pēpi-pod Program team was announced the winner of the Team Innovation category of the HESTA Australian Nursing Awards at a gala ceremony in Sydney last Thursday night. The team was recognised for their innovative work in rolling out safe sleeping devices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies on Cape York in a bid to reduce above average rates of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI).
The pods are being rolled out as part of a two year study led by Chair of the SIDS and Kids National Scientific Advisory Group Professor Jeanine Young from the University of the Sunshine Coast to assess the acceptability and feasibility of using Pēpi-pods in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The prize of $10,000 will be spent on technology to enable Health Workers rolling out the pods to collect data for the study.
Apunipima Maternal and Child Health Team Leader Johanna Neville said the team was honoured to have won the award.
‘The Pēpi-pod Program is an Australian first and the team is thrilled to be doing something innovative and empowering to reduce infant death on Cape York. One of the many positives of this program is that Indigenous Health Workers are leading the roll out. This enhances community relationships and creates a safe space for the exchange of knowledge and support.’
Pēpi-pods, which originated in New Zealand, sees infants (of families with known risk factors for SUDI) of up to six months placed in a portable, lined container to sleep. The Pēpi-pod is small enough to fit between the parents in bed, thereby enabling babies to co-sleep in their own safe place.
Professor Young said the Program combines a safe sleeping space with a targeted safe sleeping health promotion initiative for families with known risk factors for SUDI.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies are 3.8 times more likely to die suddenly and unexpectedly than non-Indigenous infants and we know that infant deaths are associated with co-sleeping in hazardous circumstances; particularly for preterm or low birth weight babies or where smoking, alcohol, drug use or unsafe sleep environments are present. Many Indigenous families prefer to co-sleep to ease breastfeeding and stay as close as they can to their baby – the Pēpi-pods enable families to maintain this practice and keep baby safe.’
Established in December 2013, the Program will run for around two years with preliminary findings expected in December 2014. Expected outcomes from this project include reduced rates of SUDI amongst high risk families; original data to inform acceptable, feasible, effective and sustainable strategies that build parent, health provider and community capacity in reducing SUDI risk; increased parent and community awareness of safe sleeping recommendations and the addressing of national (Council of Australian Government) and international goals (Millennium Development Goal 4) to reduce infant and child mortality.
Apunipima Pēpi-pod Program team
Program Lead: Professor Jeanine Young, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of the Sunshine Coast and Chair, SIDS and Kids National Scientific Advisory Group
Apunipima Cape York Health Council Maternal and Child Health team
Ms Leanne Craigie, Senior Project Officer – Health Promotion; Children’s Health Queensland, Hospital and Health Service;
Dr Lauren Kearney, Senior Research Fellow, University of the Sunshine Coast;
Mrs Stephanie Cowan, Director, Change for Our Children, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Mrs Karen Watson, PhD Candidate, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of the Sunshine Coast
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