Volunteers are crucial to Sands’ vision of saving babies lives and to ensure that, when a baby does die, anyone affected gets the support and care they need.
Sands Hospital Liaison Volunteers (HLVs) are a vital link between hospitals, Sands groups and Sands staff. Our aim is to ensure that every hospital in the UK has access to a HLV to signpost and promote Sands support services, training, resources, and bereavement care guidance (where applicable) enabling healthcare professionals to provide excellent bereavement care. We currently have 114 HLVs across England and Scotland and we are now expanding the programme into Northern Ireland and Wales.
Role of Hospital Liaison Volunteers
The HLV role advocates for parents and hospital staff by providing essential feedback, enabling Sands to support health professionals and parents better. The feedback not only informs our work with Hospital Trusts and Boards but also supports the development of the National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) project which Sands leads. The NBCP seeks to increase the quality of, and reduce the inequity in, the bereavement care provided by healthcare professionals after pregnancy loss or the death of a baby. Currently 120/126 Trusts in England have signed up to the pathway. Scotland have mandated the programme and all Health Boards will have registered by 2024. This demonstrates how hospitals are committed to working towards better bereavement care for all; and expanding the HLV programme will help even more.
Sands is hugely grateful to the many volunteers who are working closely with hospitals to improve bereavement care, ultimately providing support to bereaved parents and families which is tailored to their individual needs.
Laura Culpin from Hereford Sands is one of our HLVs and shares her experience of the role here:
“My name's Laura and I’m the Hospital Liaison for Hereford County Hospital. I was actively involved with establishing the new bereavement suite which opened in summer 2019.
"Through a working group we’ve brought in lanyards and a buzzer system to help those returning to the hospital, anxious about appointments. We’ve improved the resources within the county basing it on bereaved parents’ experiences. As Hereford Sands we support both the midwives and the bereaved families in the community.
"During Baby Loss Awareness Week (BLAW) we walk from the hospital to the cathedral for the Wave of Light event and we see more buildings are lighting up in pink and blue each year. We feedback experiences and ensure the hospital is stocked with memory boxes and literature. We still have lots of ideas and with a new bereavement midwife starting soon we hope these will grow to fruition.”
Become a Hospital Liaison Volunteer
If you are dedicated to supporting hospitals in providing excellent bereavement care and can build strong relationships with healthcare staff, then this role is for you.
To begin, we ask that you take time to read through The Hospital Liaison Volunteer role and how we support you PowerPoint, then complete an application form. The application form will ask you to demonstrate your suitability for the role.
The application form will ask for two references, and these will need to be satisfactory before you start volunteering. The references can be someone who has known you in a personal or professional capacity for at least two years, but not a family member or close friend. We will ask your references to comment on your suitability to be a Hospital Liaison Volunteer.
Once this has been received, your form will be checked, we will contact your references and then arrange an interview.
Before you apply
Before you apply to become a Sands Hospital Liaison Volunteer, please make sure you meet the following requirements:
- You must be over 18 .
- If you are bereaved, at least 12 months have elapsed since your own bereavement. Many of our volunteers tell us that they had no idea how these first anniversaries would affect them until they happened.
- Have an understanding and awareness of pregnancy loss and baby death.
After the training
Sometimes a training course will raise questions about your readiness to volunteer. We might need to have a follow-up call with you to discuss certain points, to set up certain special arrangements or ask how you are feeling about your readiness to volunteer. This is not a failure. It is important that our volunteers are in the right place emotionally so they can truly support hospital staff in providing bereavement care that is inclusive and available to every parent and family. If you or your trainers do not feel you are quite ready, it is better to focus on other ways to make a difference. Please take a look at other volunteering opportunities here.
Once you have successfully completed the training, with satisfactory references, we will let the relevant people know that you are now ready to start volunteering.
In your role, you will receive an invitation to online group catch ups every eight weeks, be invited to join our Facebook group for Hospital Liaison Volunteers, get support from the wider team at Sands and have access to the Hospital Liaison Coordinator for additional support.
Course details 2024
Our online training sessions will be run as cohorts, and you must be able to attend both sessions within a cohort to complete the training.
2024 HLV Training
Cohort 1: Monday 15th & 22nd April 7pm-9.15pm
Cohort 2: Thursday 1st & 8th August 7pm-9.15pm
Cohort 3: Monday 2nd & 9th December 7pm-9.15pm
For more information about the role or application, or to find which hospital you can volunteer in, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.