Sands has a long established culture of working closely with health professionals to improve care.
It is a culture which led to publications like The Loss of Your Baby in 1979 and After Stillbirth and Neonatal Death: What Happens Next? in 1986, which in turn paved the way for the publication of the first Sands Guidelines.
The first and second edition of the Guidelines in 1991 and 1995, both written by Nancy Kohner, reflected her unique ability to understand the different perspectives of bereaved parents and health professionals and to communicate them with a sensitivity and clarity that enabled those perspectives to be understood and respected.
When it became clear to Nancy that she was too ill to continue working on the 3rd edition of the Guidelines which we had asked her to undertake, she strongly recommended that the new edition should be entrusted to Alix Henley and Judith Schott with whom she had worked closely on a number of publications including the previous editions of the Guidelines.
For over 18 months Judith and Alix have thrown themselves into this challenge with extraordinary energy and commitment. What has been particularly impressive is their determination to consult widely and intensively with as many health professionals and parents as possible; and their ability to assimilate a huge amount of advice and feedback over a wide range of issues and then to summarise and communicate that in clear, unambiguous language.
The result is the third edition of the Sands Guidelines which was launched at a one day conference in London on 12th June. Together with Judith we are now working to deliver a training programme based on the Guidelines to NHS Trusts across the UK which will be supported and sustained by local Sands Groups.
The challenge is to ensure that the practical advice and information contained in the Guidelines are assimilated and that a new benchmark for good practice when caring for parents who have a childbearing loss is established.