Background Illicit drug use in the UK and further afield continues to be a significant public health issue. A significant proportion of those entering drug treatment programmes are women of child bearing age.
Infants delivered to such women are at risk of NAS often necessitating prolonged opiate treatment and a prolonged neonatal unit stay.
We identified those infants being discharged to foster care to be those most at risk of severe NAS. We reviewed the service delivered to these particularly vulnerable infants, aiming to identify areas where quality of care could be improved. Evidence suggests supportive, non pharmacological care is as important as pharmacotherapy in NAS. Such supportive care is best delivered in the home environment. By treating infants being discharged to foster care in such a home environment we will significantly improve their quality of care.
The Training Package We delivered a 2 part training course to foster carers who wished to care for such infants. The aim of the training package was to equip carers with the knowledge and skills to safely care for such infants in the home environment.
Results Foster carers are now available to take infants with NAS home on pharmacological treatment as soon as stability is achieved. The quality of care delivered to such infants will improve significantly as a result. In addition cot occupancy will be reduced, vital at a time when demand for neonatal cots is extremely high.