South Island Alliance helps DHBs prioritise safe sleep for infants

News
08 Nov 2013

The South Island Alliance Leadership Team has signed off a regional safe sleep policy, supporting DHBs in their efforts to prevent sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and safe sleeping settings for infants from birth to six months in hospitals.

SI Child Health Service Level Alliance (CHSLA) Chair Nick Baker says the policy is a positive step toward DHBs prioritising safe sleeping environments for infant patients.

“This is an opportunity for South Island DHBs to collaborate via a regional framework and provide and have access to resources that will work to mitigate the high rates of annual SUDI cases that New Zealand experiences.”

“The purpose of the policy is to ensure DHB health professionals have the necessary skills and resources to provide safe sleeping arrangements for infants from birth to six months of age within their facilities.

“It also provides consistent verbal and written advice on safe sleeping tailored to the needs of the infant, family and whanau as identified during careful assessment,” says Mr Baker.

Development of the policy has come about after the New Zealand Health Quality and Safety Commission identified in June 2012 that DHBs should prioritise the prevention of SUDI and ensure safe sleeping settings for infants in the DHB hospitals as part of their model of best care.

Mr Baker says the implementation plan and policy was developed with Change for Our Children and all relevant stakeholders, such as DHBs, regional College of Midwifery, Plunket. Document control lies with the SI Alliance while DHBs are establishing safe sleep work groups to oversee the full implementation of this policy by 1 June 2014.

The policy sets out that DHB health professionals will be skilled and resourced to:
• consistently discuss and provide written advice on safe sleeping that is tailored to the families/whanau needs
• Document what needs to occur to mitigate identified risks as an action plan in the clinical notes and share and/or hand over these actions with the others involved in the provision of health care
• Document the actions taken to support safe sleep in the clinical notes.

The policy also looks to support families in ensuring safe sleeping environments are always available e.g. a safe bassinette or standards compliant cot; model safe sleep practices within all DHB services, and foster continuous quality improvement with audit and evaluation of practice and skills.

CHSLA are offering DHBs training and education resources, as well as messaging strategies for health care professionals and workers, families/whanau. At the same time DHB service providers support the provision of safe sleeping environment for all infants in hospital and after they are discharged home, and DHBs will undertake regular audit activities to support quality care and ensure policy compliance.

The guideline that underpins the policy is that babies sleep safely when they are on their back and can breathe easily.

New Zealand’s first Safe Sleep Day will be held on Friday 6th December 2013, providing an opportunity for DHBs to interact with staff and clients about their safe sleep policies and models of care.

The safe sleep for infants from birth to six months policy, implementation plan and resource material is available on the South Island  regional health pathway website.