BOARD MEMBER OF THE NIDCAP (Newborn Individualised Developmental Care and Assessment Programme) FEDERATION INTERNATIONAL

In September 2012, the INHA was elected to the board of the NIDCAP Federation International. The INHA sit on the Advancement Committee of the NIDCAP Federation International as well as being Co-Chairs of the NIDCAP Family Advisory Council.

The NIDCAP Federation International (NFI) promotes the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP). NIDCAP is the most comprehensive, evidence-based model of developmentally supportive care and assessment for preterm and full-term newborns and their families in the hospital, and the transition home.

The NFI aspires for all newborns and families to receive hospital care and assessment in the relationship based, family integrated NIDCAP model.

The NFI assures the quality of NIDCAP education, training and certification for professionals and hospital systems, and advances the philosophy and science of such care.

Challenge and Opportunity

The incidence of preterm birth, worldwide, is rapidly increasing. In Ireland, the incidence of prematurity currently stands at 4500 per annum. Over 25% of all preterm infants are also born too small for their gestational age. These infants present immediate and significant challenges to their parents and to their caregivers in Newborn Intensive Care Units. They are hypersensitive, difficult to feed, and difficult to calm. More than 50% will go on to develop learning and emotional disabilities, requiring special education and mental health services. The challenge is even greater in developing countries.

Research has documented the beneficial effect of NIDCAP in terms of shorter intensive care and overall hospital stay, better weight gain and improved behavioral outcomes that endure beyond infancy. Studies have also documented that the NIDCAP approach enhances brain structure and function when measured by sophisticated medical techniques such as EEG and MRI.

What is the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP)?

Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP), developed by Heidelise Als, PhD and her colleagues, is a comprehensive approach to care that is developmentally supportive and individualized to the infant’s goals and level of stability. Further it seeks to support families and the professionals who care for them. It provides and trains professionals within this NIDCAP framework.

One component of the model of care is the direct observation of the infants within their environments in the newborn intensive care setting. Using a detailed observational tool, often referred to as the NIDCAP observation, the infant’s behaviors can be interpreted as steady and relaxed or as representing stress or discomfort. By observing and then interpreting behaviors of infants within their environment and as reactions to care they receive, developmental care plans can be developed, with the caregiving team, that best support’s the infant’s overall goals and efforts at self regulation.

The NIDCAP model, which includes this observation, describes the development of an ever-more supportive and developmentally appropriate nursery environment (from the actual physical space to the delivery of care), and interrelated, the increasing nurturance of the family and the staff, and the continued education and mutual collaboration of the staff (from the direct caregivers through the administrative leadership).

The NIDCAP approach to care requires in-depth training and provides in turn a highly valuable resource in support of developmental support and care provision by professionals and families.

Who may be assessed with the NIDCAP?

Preterm and full-term newborns in the newborn intensive care setting are appropriate for NIDCAP assessment. Infants are typically observed in their bed spaces within the nursery before, during, and after caregiving experiences.

To learn more about the NIDCAP Federation International please visit their website: