January 18, 2013 | 2 Comments
by Kate Nelson Ward
“We’re at our baby homes everyday and we become blind to the needs and problems that actually exist. Our job is more than just calculating nutrients and calories. It’s important to recognize the process [of caregiving and feeding]. This training has prompted me to begin walking through my baby house and observe first hand the feeding practices.”
“I’ve been a baby house director for 15 years and in those 15 years only SPOON Foundation has offered and invited us to trainings like these. We need more!”
“After this training I feel inspired to work more closely with my staff and take a team approach to addressing the feeding needs [of children in the baby house]. I now feel confident that I can lead and facilitate my team!”
These quotes are just a small reflection of the candid feedback we received from participants at the end of today. Today I witnessed many “aha” moments during the training activities.
We were fortunate to have SPOON’s newest board member, Almaz Sharman, introduce Day 2 of the training. We then followed-up on yesterday’s experience at the baby house by discussing some videos captured of caregivers feeding children with special needs. Many of the doctors were surprised at the very simple techniques that can be employed to improve the feeding experience for children with special needs.
To simulate a child with cerebral palsy, Tanya and Slava asked the doctors to tilt their heads back, straighten their legs and put their hands behind their back. Then, doctors spoon-fed and offered cups of water to each other while in this strained position. There were many outbursts of discomfort when they realized how difficult it is to swallow. We discussed low-cost, practical ways to address positioning needs for children with cerebral palsy, such as providing head, neck and jaw support and using pillows and blankets to provide stability to the torso and align hips. Doctors were also interested in higher-cost options such as specialty chairs and equipment, and said they are now considering reallocating money in their budget to purchase adaptive equipment.
We then discussed feeding needs for “typical” children. Doctors had the experience of being fed with very large spoons and being fed with their eyes closed. We heard comments of “it’s very difficult” or “why are you feeding me so quickly?” which told me these were “aha” moments for many.
Other parts of the training included a brief documentary on attachment, discussion on stages of feeding and screening for nutrient deficiencies. It was a day packed-full of information and it seemed to pass all too quickly. I was thankful for several minutes at the end of the day to reflect as a whole group on the training experience. I can’t give enough praise to Tanya and Slava – they are incredible partners in training! They have been doing such trainings for over half my life, so I have much to learn from them!
Here’s some more of the feedback we received:
“I appreciate the practicality of the training. In our medical training we learned all the theory, but now we have the practical skills.”
“I see now the different nutritional needs of children with cerebral palsy [from typical children]. I now recognize the importance of adaptive feeding equipment, especially for children with cerebral palsy. I think I may make purchasing this type of equipment a priority and request this from sponsors.”
“I like this practical teaching method. It will be very useful for my baby house staff. I hope to replicate some of these activities with my staff.”
“We need more conferences like this!”