A new Regional Bereavement Careplan, for parents who experience miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death, has been launched in Northern Ireland.

This new Careplan replaces the 2006 Bereavement Careplan, and consists of regional guidance and seven care pathways, each related to when the pregnancy or infant loss occurs. The aim is for these to support staff to deliver a person-centred, high quality, consistent approach to care of women and their families at this very difficult time. It took 18 months to complete.

Northern Ireland Sands (Sands NI), a network of local Sands Groups, was instrumental in the development of this new Careplan. They were invited to be part of a Bereavement Pathway Review Steering Group, to provide parents perspective on the 2006 Careplan, represented by Chair of Sands NI, Steven Guy.

The Steering Group also included members from across the Health and Social Care sector, the Northern Ireland bereavement network, the chaplaincy network and paediatric pathology.

A larger engagement workshop was also carried out by Sands NI and other clinical and user groups to ensure parents’ views were fully represented. Parents were invited to add their suggestions and comments to the work that had already been carried out.

Chair of Sands NI, Steven Guy said:

“I believe the new pathways will mean improved care for parents across NI. It is vitally important that all hospitals in NI have a standard of care to deliver to parents and their families and these pathways are a huge step in that direction. Sands NI is very pleased and proud to have been part of this pathway review.”

The new Bereavement Careplan was launched at Stormont in October by Health Minister Jim Wells. He said:

“Sadly, while the vast majority of pregnancies and births are straightforward, the fact remains that sometimes events unfold that mean the loss of a beloved baby. Each of these lives has incalculable value. Each loss leaves behind grieving families and friends, therefore compassionate, effective support frameworks should be in place to help them.”

Notes to editors:

For further information please see the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s website: http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/news-dhssps-291014-new-bereavement-centre