Colm Darby

Colm Darby Doctoral Fellow at Queens University Belfast Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner SHSCT

Colm is an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust at Craigavon Area Hospital. He has worked at this neonatal unit for over 13 years and has been involved in various studies within this time.

As an ANNP Colm was awarded the UK Neonatal Nurse of the Year in 2017 for his work on regional implementation of a hypoglycemia protocol which saw a decrease in neonatal admissions and increase breastfeeding practices across Northern Ireland. He is an advocate for the newborn infant and their families with a role as the Regional Lead for the Neonatal Nurses Association in Northern Ireland and Executive Board Member.

Colm has developed his research career in the ANNP role through multiple publications, a UK consensus paper on LISA administration and vaccine hesitancy and has recently begun his Doctoral Fellowship at Queens University Belfast after securing a fellowship award through the Public Health Agency to explore the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in parents that have had babies admitted to neonatal units across Northern Ireland.

Presentation at Skin health and wound care for children study day

Neonatal skin care


Neonatal skin care, particularly for preterm infants, is a critical aspect of healthcare, demanding specialised attention from tissue viability nurses. The delicate nature of premature skin poses unique challenges, necessitating a tailored approach to promote optimal development and protect against potential complications.

Premature infants often have underdeveloped skin barriers, making them more susceptible to infections, dehydration, and temperature regulation issues. Tissue viability nurses play a crucial role in implementing evidence-based practices to mitigate these risks. Maintaining a warm and humidified environment is essential to prevent transepidermal water loss, ensuring adequate hydration and minimizing the risk of skin breakdown.

Gentle cleansing practices using mild, fragrance-free products are imperative, as premature skin is sensitive and prone to irritation. Regular assessments are vital to detect early signs of skin compromise, such as erythema or breakdown, allowing for timely interventions.

Promoting kangaroo care, where infants have skin-to-skin contact with their parents, contributes to thermal regulation, enhances bonding, and positively influences skin integrity. Emollient therapy, with hypoallergenic products, helps improve skin barrier function and reduces the incidence of complications like sepsis.

Education is paramount, empowering parents and caregivers to understand neonatal skin care protocols. Tissue viability nurses serve as educators, ensuring consistent implementation of best practices and fostering an environment conducive to optimal skin health for preterm infants. Through their expertise, these nurses play a pivotal role in safeguarding the delicate skin of neonates, contributing to overall well-being and development