Despite instances of good practice by individuals, many services are not set up to deliver consistent high-quality bereavement care, a report by Sands and Bliss has found.
According to the report, just 12% of units said they have mandatory bereavement care training and nearly a quarter bereavement leads say to have not received bereavement care training in the death of a baby.
‘While nothing can reduce the pain and suffering that the death of a baby causes, high quality bereavement care can help families cope with the devastating experience. Insensitive care can cause increased levels of suffering that can stay with families for a lifetime,’ said Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands.
‘NHS Trusts and Health Boards need to ensure that neonatal units have the support and resources they need to maintain best practice and ensure all bereaved families receive the highest quality care. I urge them to implement the recommendations of this audit and to adopt the National Bereavement Care Pathway for pregnancy and baby loss, to ensure care around baby loss is offered in line with these standards.’
While 83% of units say they have access to at least one specialist bereavement lead, only 14% of leads have dedicated time in their work plan to provide support on the unit.
The findings also reveal 94% of units have access to at least one cuddle cot, however only 57% of bereavement rooms are away from the sound of other babies and just 15% are soundproofed.
Some 17% of units said that they do not have access to a specific space for supporting bereaved families.
‘The RCM appreciates the value that good bereavement care has to support families whose baby has died. It is disappointing that families still don't always get the best care,’ said RCM education advisor and the organisation’s lead on bereavement care Gail Johnson. ‘There are now in place clear systems (the NBCP) for health professionals to follow to ensure that practitioners understand how they can best support parents who have suffered such a tragic loss.’