Collaboration to improve bereavement care for anyone affected by the loss of a baby has produced a new e-Learning module that will help friends, colleagues, employers and wider hospital staff to support bereaved parents when a baby dies.

The National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP): Supporting Parents for Pregnancy and Neonatal Loss e-Learning module will consist of six sessions, the first two of which have now been launched.

The module shares elements of good bereavement care, including hearing from parents with first-hand experience, to improve bereavement care and reduce variability in care after baby loss. The two courses include quotes from bereaved parents to illustrate the real impact of baby loss.  

The modules have been developed by Sands in conjunction with charities and professional organisations such as the Royal College of Midwives, and have been delivered by Health Education England’s e-Learning for Health Care team. The courses are:

Bereavement Care after Pregnancy Loss or Baby Death - Learning for All: This session has been designed to provide support when talking to bereaved parents. It offers suggestions and guidance about what to say and do and is suitable for anyone who might come into contact, in their work or home life, with anyone bereaved through pregnancy loss or the death of a baby.

Bereavement Care after Pregnancy Loss or Baby Death - Healthcare Professionals: The course is for healthcare professionals caring for newly bereaved parents. Working through the themes of the NBCP, the course helps healthcare professionals understand the important elements of excellent bereavement care; it covers delivering bad news, memory making, post mortem and histology, ceremonies and services, discharge, aftercare, feedback and review.

Marc Harder, NBCP Project Lead at Sands, said: “Lack of specific training for healthcare professionals has often been raised as a barrier to good standards of bereavement care. The independent evaluation published in April 2019 highlighted the positive impact the NBCP has had for parents and professionals during the pilot phase of the programme, including the training materials.

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with our partners in developing these further to provide two high quality, easy-to-access e-learning modules.”

Gail Johnson, Education Lead for the Royal College of Midwives and Chair of the NBCP Training sub-group, said: “Most people, professionals included, are anxious about what to say to parents if they have experienced pregnancy loss.

“The fear of saying the wrong thing and adding to families grief is a huge worry. Parents report that well-meaning people say things that cause distress, or alternatively avoid talking to them at all. These modules are designed to help anyone feel more confident in talking to families.”

The primary audience for the e-Learning module for healthcare professionals is:  

  • Anyone working in a health or social care or community environment who may come into contact with a parent who is bereaved through loss of a baby during pregnancy or up to a year - (e.g. reception staff, hospital cafe staff, porters, hospital administrators, faith leaders or pastoral workers and school staff)
  • Healthcare professionals working in a clinical or community setting who are likely to be supporting bereaved parents.

The module is available at the eLearning for Healthcare website.

The overall objective of the NBCP is to ensure that all bereaved parents are offered equal, high quality, individualised, safe and sensitive care in any experience of pregnancy or baby loss, including miscarriage, termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly, stillbirth, neonatal death, or sudden unexpected death in Infancy up to 12 months.

Click here for further information on the NBCP and the new e-Learning modules for healthcare professionals

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