Parenting with a Disability – Yooralla’s one of kind program for new parents

DATE: 28 June 2017

Parenting with a Disability – Yooralla’s one of kind program for new parents

For the past few years, Yooralla's Therapy Services, in collaboration with The Royal Women's Hospital, have been running a program to support new parents with physical, intellectual and mental health disabilities – the only one of its kind in Victoria.

For the past few years, Yooralla's Therapy Services, in collaboration with The Royal Women's Hospital, have been running a program to support new parents with physical, intellectual and mental health disabilities – the only one of its kind in Victoria.

The program, Parenting with a Disability, aims to support new parents before and after the birth of their baby, according to Emelia Young, an Occupational Therapist from Yooralla who has been coordinating the program since 2014. 

"Part of the support we provide includes doing an assessment of the parents' functional abilities, mobility, their daily activities during pregnancy, social supports, services and what newborn equipment needs to be purchased," says Emelia.

"From there, we are able to recommend modifications to baby equipment and the home, suggest more 'off the shelf' equipment or recommend some advocacy groups for ongoing support," she said.

Emelia believes that there is limited support for new parents with disabilities within our current health system, but that Yooralla's program offers new parents practical solutions to enable them to parent autonomously.

"I am often told by the midwives who refer people to our services that, without our program, these mothers and parents would have nowhere to go for help. They see this program as hope," says Emelia.

"When given the resources required - such as equipment, modified environments, support services and advocacy - these parents thrive, feeling confident and in control of their parenting journey".

"Our role is to advocate for the parent so we can better enable the bond between mother, father, and baby," continues Emelia.

"We work together with the parent to identify their needs, overcome obstacles and increase their skills and confidence. This helps to foster positive parent-child interaction and increase satisfaction in their role as a parent".

What Emelia says she enjoys most about running the program is seeing the bond and connection that the parents form with their babies.

"Even small modifications, like changing a feeding position or using a different baby sling, can really open up the possibilities and make their parenting journey so much more fulfilling and enjoyable," she said.

"With the right supports and environmental modifications, these parents and children can thrive. And I also love the fact that I get to meet so many gorgeous babies!"

Yooralla's Therapy services support adults and children with disability to enhance their quality of life. Yooralla's team of specialists are drawn from across the disciplines of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, nursing, and psychology. Working together in multi or transdisciplinary teams, we can provide you with supports to meet your individual goals and needs.

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