A project to improve the quality of care that bereaved families receive when their baby dies has been found to be making a big difference, and should be rolled out nationally, a new study has found.
To ensure bereaved parents and their families are supported in the best way possible, the National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) was launched in 2017 and has been piloted in 32 NHS Trusts in England. The NBCP helps professionals to provide families with a greater consistency and quality of bereavement care after pregnancy or baby loss.
Independent research by Fiveways previously highlighted improvements made in the 11 Wave one sites when it reported its findings in October 2018.
The final report relating to 21 Wave two sites published today analyses the experiences of bereavement care from parents and healthcare professionals.
The results have revealed high levels of satisfaction with the bereavement care they received when their baby died. Parents also said the hospital was a caring and supportive environment, they were treated with respect and many feel the decisions they made in the hospital were the right ones at the time.
Collaborators in the project including baby loss charities and Royal Colleges are calling on NHS Trusts to adopt the National Bereavement Care Pathway and adhere to nine specific bereavement care standards.
Minister for Mental Health, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, said: “Every stillbirth or baby loss is a tragedy and we remain absolutely committed to supporting parents through this difficult time.
"This independent evaluation shows that NBCP has already helped to strengthen the support for many bereaved families across the country, but there is more to do and I would urge all NHS Trusts to adopt this approach to ensure all care surrounding baby loss meets these consistent standards.
"Through our Long Term Plan for the NHS we are also accelerating action to halve the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths over the next five years and improving access to perinatal mental health care for mothers and their partners."
Surveys completed by 1,268 health care professionals and a further 494 in the follow up, revealed the Pathway has improved staff capability and bereavement care practice amongst teams working at the 21 Wave two Trusts.
Since the Pathway was introduced, more health care professionals feel they now have consistent and clear guidelines which support them to provide good quality care for bereaved parents. The Pathway has improved the dialogue between hospital departments which has helped professionals to deliver care more consistently.
The experience of bereavement care were gathered from 63 parents accorded in an online survey. 84 per cent agreed the hospital is a caring and supportive environment with 92 per cent agreeing they were treated with respect.
See the infographic with key findings.
Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands, which leads on the NBCP and Chair of the NBCP Core Group, said: “Parents who receive poor care can exacerbate the grief they feel, but good care can and does help them on their painful journey. That’s why the NBCP is so important because every parent equally deserves excellent bereavement care. It’s the very least we can do for them.
“Sands is delighted that the independent evaluation of the NBCP has highlighted the impact excellent bereavement care can have for bereaved parents and on enhancing collaborative working amongst healthcare professionals, which has met the initial objectives that Sands and our partner organisations set out to achieve.
“The NBCP has made a huge difference to the lives of bereaved parents and healthcare professionals, and has improved the care they receive. We would like to see the Pathway rolled out nationally, so that all bereaved parents receive the quality care they deserve.”
NHS Trusts are being encouraged to take up the NBCP as part of the collaboration’s roll out plans. A number have already taken part in local workshops to identify gaps in local practice and to develop plans to improve bereavement care, based on the 9 bereavement care standards promoted by the group.
Further information regarding these standards, please visit the NBCP website.
To register with the pathway, click here.
Hear from experts about why more NHS Trusts should adopt NBCP:
Hear from experts about why more NHS Trusts should adopt NBCP to ensure that all bereaved parents receive the quality care:
The NBCP mention in the House of Commons
View the NBCP mentioned in the House of Commons by Antoinette Sandbach (15th May 2019)
Antoinette Sandbach MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss, asked a question in PMQs which elicited a very supportive response from the Prime Minister