In May, NNASA was proudly represented by Carin Marais and Ruth Davidge who both presented at the 10th International Neonatal Nurses Conference in Auckland, New Zealand. As members of NNASA part of your membership fee goes to COINN and NNASA members are therefore members of COINN and currently represented on the COINN board by Carin.

Before the conference officially opened delegates had the opportunity to attend workshops one of which included a unit tour of Starship Children’s Hospital’s Neontal unit and the head quarters of Fisher and Paykel. What a privilege to visit such a beautiful unit! The thought and particularly the nursing input that had gone into its design were evident. There was a wonderful mix of technology, space and family and staff areas. Visiting Fisher and Paykel was also an incredible experience. To see the stringent quality control systems that are in place and the very organized work spaces (even to tape on the floor demarcating where the waste bin should go!) was incredibly comforting to a very OCD neonatal nurses brain.

The opening ceremony included a wonderful cultural Maori ceremony. This theme of being culturally thoughtful, relevant and inclusive was evident throughout the conference. It was followed by an excellent speech by COINN president Carole Kenner focussing on the role neonatal nurses need to play in advocating strongly at every level for the needs of neonate. It was followed by the presentation of Neonatal Nursing Excellence awards. The cocktail party was a wonderful opportunity to renew old friendships, make new acquaintances, explore the large trade exhibition of 36 stalls and generally let your hair down.

The conference theme was Enriched Family-Enhanced Care and delegates were inspired on the first day by presentations from Heidelise Als, the 80 year old doctor, who first introduced the world to the idea of individualized developmentally supportive neonatal care through the NIDCAP program. This was a fitting start to the conference that constantly reinforced the important role of families and the need to integrate them into every level of care including drafting guidelines and research. This was very relevant as we are considering an expanded role for mothers in South Africa to empower them to observe their own babies. It was also reassuring to see that every country in its own way has challenges to overcome. A presentation from China was fascinating as they shared their struggle to introduce KMC in the face of traditional beliefs that the mother cannot leave her room for the first month after birth. There were also in depth breakfast sessions on skin care and feeding guidelines. It really was inspiring to hear the influence neonatal nurses can have to change practices in their units and countries when they have knowledge, experience, passion and confidence to step out and speak up!

The gala dinner was a splendid affair organized and decorated by the Starship neonatal unit staff. All the delegates went to great effort to dress according to the Gatsby theme. The delegates were given a wonderful history lesson about the start of neonatal intensive care which began during this period of the 1920s as an entertainment exhibit at Coney Island. We also had a moving dance tribute from your dancers many of whom were ex prems saying thank you for the care neonatal nurses give. We left feeling motivated, inspired, challenged, energized and sad to say goodbye to our like minded global family. See you in 20121 in Aalborg, Denmark!

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