- Researchers from Charles Sturt University, Flinders University, and SA Health have worked with industry and community groups on a research project that has achieved improved safe sleeping practices for infants in First Nations communities
- The research project trialled the Pedi Pod ® as a safe alternative to co-sleeping among First Nations families
- 70 families participated in the safe sleep program which included sleeping their baby in a Pepi Pod
- 91 per cent of the families found that the Pod supported safe sleeping
The results are available for long-anticipated joint research on safe-sleeping practices in First Nations families.
The study was conducted by Charles Sturt University, Flinders University, SA Health, the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, and the Women and Children’s Health Network (WCHN).
The Pepi Pod ® program trialled the use of the Pepi Pod ® - a plastic box that has been created to safely sleep infants either in or nearby the parents’ bed, in First Nations communities in South Australia.
The program which commenced in 2018 and suffered delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic aimed to increase education on safe sleep practices with infants in First Nations families.
First Nations babies are three to four times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) than non-First Nations infants.
Associate Dean (Research) and Professor of Nursing in the Charles Sturt Faculty of Science and Health Professor Julian Grant said the research approach was well received and had a positive impact on increasing education on safe sleep practices in First Nations communities.
“Seventy families trialled the use of the Pedi Pod ® with their babies so they could maintain this culturally important practice of staying close to babies while providing a safer sleeping environment,” Professor Grant said.
“Over 91 per cent of the families found that the Pod supported safe sleeping and was beneficial to their family unit overall.”
Eighty-nine per cent of families found the Pod convenient to use and 97 per cent want to keep the Pod to use with their next baby.
Professor Grant said the Pedi Pod was more of a tool used to connect with First Nations families within the broader program of teaching safe sleep practices.
“The Pod was more like a talking stick in that it enabled families to share safe sleep messages between generations and enabled health professionals, to demonstrate respect for cultural practices. The Pod served as a jumping-off point to have a broader conversation around safe sleeping practices in general.”
Professor Grant said the Pod is one example of a tool that could be used in mainstream health services that have a responsibility to provide culturally safe care. Aboriginal Health services are gold standard care but not all First Nations families have access to Aboriginal Health Services and must birth in mainstream health services.
“Mainstream health services need to adapt to centralise First Nations ways of knowing and being. First Nations ways of communicating need to be validated which builds respect and trust, as trust is at the core of any engagement,” Professor Grant said.
The approach used a two-component intervention study that focussed on safe sleep of infants using a pre- and post-assessment model for Aboriginal families.
“A Knowledge Translation Complexity Network Model was used to analyse the challenges of context and culture,” Professor Grant said.
“Culture needs to be centralised within the intersecting networks of policy, practice and research.
“We must pay parallel attention to First Nations ways of knowing and being in mainstream health care if we are to increase the effectiveness of mainstream health services when it comes to First Nations people.”
Use of the Pepi Pod ® system for encouraging safe sleep practices in First Nations communities has since been adopted in various government departments and not-for-profit organisations, nationally.