on Sep 28, 20

Riding the Covid-19 rollercoaster with neonatal families

If there’s anything we can learn from our friends at The Neonatal Trust, it’s the power of pulling together to navigate through challenging times.

The Neonatal Trust supports 5,000 families with babies in intensive or special care units around Aotearoa New Zealand every year. Their mahi includes supporting neonatal families through the stress and anxiety of their neonatal journey, funding research to increase understanding and enhance outcomes, and supporting neonatal units so the staff and babies receive the best care possible.

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, including many charities throughout Aotearoa. Like many of our 65 charity partners, The Neonatal Trust soon felt the economic and emotional impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. As New Zealand went into lockdown, The Neonatal Trust’s doors also closed, and their assistance to families and units were not deemed an essential service. Additionally, major fundraising events such as their Annual Home and Garden Tour and charity golf days were cancelled. A vast amount of funding cuts and strains on grant funding saw the Trust lose between $100-$150K within a matter of weeks.

“It’s been a real rollercoaster ride….a bit like a NICU journey!” says Justine Brooker, Operations Manager for The Neonatal Trust.

The 23 neonatal units all operate under separate District Health Borads, so during lockdown the level of access families had was dependent on the unit their babies were admitted to. The difference in protocols caused huge anxiety for families within the small NZ Neonatal community, who communicate regularly.

The Trust had to quickly think on their feet, and look at how they could change their current model to work within the lockdown conditions. Some of the changes the Trust made overnight included:

  • Moving developmental playgroups from being in person onto Zoom, so any neonatal family across Aotearoa could dial in to spend time with their Occupational Therapist and other families
  • Securing priority delivery codes from Countdown for online shopping for all neonatal families
  • Creating a ‘Parent to Parent’ support line so any family in need of a listening ear could call The Trust
  • Working with suppliers to get their breastpump sales sent direct from their warehouses to Mums in units or at home as The Neonatal Trust had no access to postal services from home
  • Creating recordings of mindfulness and post-partum yoga videos that were shared through the Trust’s social media channels
  • Increasing the frequency of the Trust’s newsletter to weekly, keeping the families in the units up-to-date with support, often including items such as good news stories or crosswords to help pass the time of day.

The quick changes The Neonatal Trust made meant they could continue supporting their 5,000 neonatal families throughout Aotearoa, and retain their sense of community from afar. However, the pandemic has hugely affected the Trust’s outlook and operations for the rest of the year and beyond.

“Each year we aim to fulfill wishlists from the units which could be something as big as 5 La-z-boy recliners for a unit, training simulation resuscitation dolls, all the way through to breastfeeding pillows.” says Justine.

This year, The Neonatal Trust’s ability to assist their units is severely limited. 

They also had plans to establish an official ‘Research and Education Fund’, where those who work within the 23 units could apply for funding to help further their neonatal research or education. Due to the Trust’s significant funding cuts, the research fund unfortunately has been sidelined for now.

The Neonatal Trust’s perseverance and sense of community during the hardships of the pandemic is truly inspiring, and reminds us of the power we can hold when we pull together.

Through The Good Registry, The Neonatal Trust has received close to $20,000 to date! Giving through our platform is just one way of supporting The Neonatal Trust’s mahi — whether that’s through our Good Gift Cards, Registries or #KindnessFromHomePage. A little bit of kindness can go a long way!

  • $10 can provide a support pack to go out to a family in need
  • $20 can provide a winter warmer pack for a baby
  • $50 can provide supermarket vouchers to support a neonatal family

If you want to find out more about The Neonatal Trust and the work they do, you can go to their website here.


If you'd like to support them right now you could: 


- By Ainsley Harris


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