Staff at Nightingale House have recently started their second Parent Nurturing Programme as part of their work to help support families with new babies.
The 10 week course, which is being delivered by Flying Start, is designed to help parents develop their emotional and mental wellbeing and deal with the challenges of parenting in order to have a calmer and happier family life.
The course includes topics such as understanding why children behave the way they do and the importance of looking after themselves as parents.
During the course, qualified staff at Nightingale House provide a crèche facility for the children so that the parents can fully interact and support each other.
Support Officer, Darren Henry said: “This course is hugely beneficial to all parents. Parenthood is the only job that comes without an instruction manual and can be the most challenging, yet also the most rewarding.”
The programme forms part of a series of courses and classes that focus on supporting families with new babies including GroBrain – a course which looks at the brain development of a baby from pregnancy up to a year after birth and Baby Yoga to help bonding between parent and baby.
Kerry Rowlands, Assistant Manager at Nightingale House explains why this work is so important: “Understandably, residents are already in a very stressful situation when they arrive at the hostel. This, coupled with the additional challenges of caring for a new baby can prove extremely challenging. We hope that through support and prevention, we can help improve longer term outcomes for parents and children.”
The team are also working with Fathers Reaching Out to discuss how they can best support Dads during the perinatal period, especially with regards to their mental health.
They also provide new baby hampers to residents that include newborn books and toys to promote play whilst giving staff the opportunity to chat to residents.
Longer term, staff at Nightingale House hope to establish a peer support group, led by parents who are experiencing mental health issues and to provide further exercise classes for parents and babies.
Clare* was diagnosed with perinatal depression and anxiety following the birth of her son. She found it difficult to go outside and interact with others. She was hearing voices and was having thoughts that her son was trying to harm her. When she moved into Nightingale House, Clare signed up to complete GroBrain.
Clare said: “I was struggling to bond with my son. I found it difficult and thought he preferred his Dad. I signed up to GroBrain as I wanted to understand how my son was feeling and how I could help him develop.”
“I’ve learned ways to bond with my son and I understand his feelings a lot better.”
Clare is also able to do other things now: “I don’t need to build myself up for hours before going to the shop. Now I can just get up and go. My relationship with my partner is better now and I’m eating healthily.”
Clare has now signed up to complete the Parent Nurturing Programme. She feels really positive about the future. She is able to interact with others and has built strong friendships within the hostel.
*name has been changed