Improving bereavement care
The quality of care that bereaved families receive when their baby dies has long-lasting effects. Good care cannot remove parents’ pain and grief, but poor care can and does make things much worse.
Sands recommends 5 key ways in which maternity units can improve care for parents whose baby dies before, during or shortly after birth:
Bereavement care training
All staff who are responsible for caring for parents whose baby has died should have training to enable them to give supportive, empathetic and sensitive care.
- Bereavement care midwives
All maternity unit staff should have access to a specially trained bereavement midwife who is responsible for staff training and support, and for monitoring policies and procedures to ensure that bereaved parents receive good quality care.
- Dedicated bereavement room
There should be at least one dedicated bereavement room or suite, away from celebrating families and the sound of live babies, where a woman whose baby has died can labour and/or be cared for afterwards.
- Bereavement care literature
Sands’ support booklets for parents and the Sands Guidelines (Pregnancy Loss and the Death of a Baby: Guidelines for professionals) should be available on every maternity unit.
- Post mortem consent package and training
All parents should be offered the opportunity to discuss a post mortem examination of their baby with a senior doctor or midwife. The consent form should be based on the HTA-approved form developed by Sands, with, if necessary, minimal changes to fit the local situation. All staff who seek consent should have had training based on the Sands Post Mortem Consent Package and the Sands Learning Outcomes for Consent Taker Training.