We are excited to report back on the three highly successful pilot workshops we recently ran to test and refine our new bereavement care training programme.  Entitled ‘Pregnancy Loss & the Death of a Baby – Sands Training for Midwives’ the pilot workshops were held during January and February of this year prior to the full programme being launched later this spring.

The workshops took place at: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead; Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford; and Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny.  Attended primarily by midwives but also by others who work closely with bereaved parents, for example neonatal and A&E nurses, the purpose of the pilots was to test the content and the timings of the day. 

The pilot programme was run using a two-stage approach where the first two workshops were evaluated using a clear set of learning outcomes prior to the third being run. We obtained as much feedback as possible from the attendees as well as the views of the trainers who delivered the days.  This allowed for changes to be made and then tested in the third pilot. Further refinement will be made following the evaluation of the last pilot and prior to the programme launch.  We are confident that we will soon be ready to deliver a high quality, relevant and beneficial workshop programme.

Feedback to date is extremely encouraging:

“A very well planned and thought out day.”

“This has been a beneficial study day and I feel more confident to care for women experiencing loss.”

“A great course. Very useful and relevant. I often lose concentration on courses but I’ve stayed focussed all day and really enjoyed all of it.”

Dr Mary Ross-Davie, Education Projects Manager (Midwifery and Reproductive Health) for NHS Education for Scotland reviewed all the materials for our new full-day workshop for midwives and commented as follows:

‘I have reviewed the SANDS pilot training materials for the pregnancy and neonatal loss study day for maternity care professionals.  I would thoroughly recommend the day for midwives and other professionals involved in maternity and neonatal care.  The training has a clear aim and appropriate, achievable learning outcomes. The day uses a wide variety of approaches to ensure that the day is lively and interactive, including film, sound recordings and group work and offers professionals with a valuable opportunity to practice sensitive communication skills. The day uses parents' voices and perspectives throughout very effectively. The materials are culturally sensitive and inclusive.  I feel that the content and approach of the day will be of great value for maternity care professionals in all four countries of the UK in improving the care that we provide to parents when they are bereaved.’

Ronnie Turner Improving Bereavement Care Manager, Sands, said,

“Running the pilot workshops was a valuable exercise.  A lot of time and energy has gone into their planning but it is not until you observe a workshop being run, that you get the opportunity to really test it, obtain feedback and make improvements. 

Detailed evaluation using key performance indicators is something we did during the pilot and will continue to do once the programme launches.  We can already clearly see the benefits of this approach by looking at the improved responses between the first two pilots and the third.  We are feeling confident and excited about the official launch of the training programme thsi spring.”

Sample key performance indicators comparing the first two pilots and the third pilot:

The aim of our new bereavement care training programme is to enable health professionals to gain the knowledge, insight and skills to provide high quality, sensitive care to parents whose baby dies, before, during or shortly after birth.  The workshops are based on our publication Pregnancy Loss and the Death of a Baby - Guidelines for Professionals (2007), as well as the latest research in this area. Parental contributions form a unique and invaluable part of the workshop learning experience. 

The full-day workshop is very interactive and combines presentation, discussion, reflection, group work, exercises, film and audio clips.  We aim for a balance between information giving/sharing and learning/developing skills.  These skills include:

  • breaking bad news with sensitivity and clarity
  • supportive listening and responding with empathy
  • enabling and supporting parents to make informed choices about creating memories of their baby, and choices about what happens to their baby’s body.

We are now in consultation about the cost of the new workshop and making final arrangements for launch.  Once launched, we will seek to get the workshop accredited by the Royal College of Midwives. 

To find out more information or to book an in-house one-day training workshop at your hospital, university or workplace, please contact: training.professionals@uk-sands.org