Plans to dramatically improve the facilities at Kettering General Hospital for families who have suffered the trauma of losing their baby have been unveiled.
The Trust is launching a £1 million public fundraising campaign - called the Twinkling Stars Appeal - to set up a brand new bereavement suite adjacent to the maternity unit.
At the moment the hospital’s bereavement room is situated within the labour suite itself – where parents with normal births are celebrating their new arrivals.
This feels inappropriate at times of great sadness for bereaved families and can add to the sense of loss that they feel.
Kettering General Hospital’s Bereavement Midwife, Stephanie Fretter, said: “Each year we care for up to 100 families who suffer the heartbreak of losing their baby.
“This can happen during pregnancy, around birth itself, or through compassionate induction - where a baby has so many genetic problems that they will not survive.
“This is an extremely upsetting and emotional time for families who may have come to hospital expecting the joy of childbirth - and have to leave with empty arms.
“While we work very closely and supportively with parents in this situation we know that our facilities really let us down and we want to change that.”
The Trust’s facilities currently consist of:
- The Snowdrop Room - A standard delivery room within the Delivery Suite that is our only current facility for bereavement care. Across the corridor is small room which contains a refrigerated cold cot where a baby’s body can be kept. Behind the room there is small courtyard garden developed with the support of Northamptonshire SANDS (the Stillborn and Neonatal Death Charity).
- A shared sitting room within the Delivery Suite. This family room is used primarily by parents having normal deliveries and who are celebrating. Bereaved families currently have to share the use of this room with them.
The plan is to develop a new bereavement suite - adjacent to the Delivery Suite but entirely separate from it - where families who have suffered a loss can get quiet, compassionate and supportive care and spend time with their loved one.
It would create:
- A new bereavement room with ensuite bathroom and an appropriate cold cot
- A new Family Room just for bereaved families to use entirely separate from the delivery suite. This would be a place where family members could meet, wait in, and use in support of bereaved parents. It would have a kitchenette, sofa bed, and be a quite private place.
- Quiet Room and office – This would be a place where the bereavement midwives are based which would have the dual purpose of being a quiet room where bad news could be communicated or where post mortem results could be discussed. The bereavement midwives currently share offices in the Delivery Suite.
Head of Strategic Corporate and Community Fundraising, Jayne Chambers, said: “This is about the hospital doing everything that it can to ease some of the pain that families feel when they lose a baby.
“We know our current facilities need to be significantly improved and we are seeking the help of our local community in changing this.
“It is about providing the sort of care you would want to have for yourself, or for other members of your family, if this kind of tragedy were to befall you.”
Families say a new separate bereavement suite would really help
Bethany Elliott and her partner Bobby O’Donovan were looking forward to the imminent birth of their baby son Rory when, on October 4, 2018, Bethany suddenly became very ill while 37 weeks pregnant.
She had a placental abruption - when the placenta starts to come away from the wall of the womb - and tragically this led to Rory’s death.
Bethany was moved into our current bereavement room in the Labour Suite where Rory was induced as quickly as possible so that Bethany could receive appropriate treatment.
She said: “I buried my head in my chest and tried to sleep but I could hear other families having their babies.
“It was just such a struggle. I was trying to cope in an environment that was geared around the happiness of birth. It felt awkward to be in a place where people were waiting for good news when I had had such bad news.
“The care you get is great but this appeal needs to be done to change the environment and have a proper separate place for bereaved families.”
Bethany and Bobby, from Corby, and their family and friends, have already proven to be great supporters of the appeal raising £12,000 through a variety of events in the months leading up to the launch.
Why we need to plan ahead for our growing population
Population in Northamptonshire over the last 30 years has grown by 30.6% - twice the national average.
There are also 35,000 new homes planned for North Northamptonshire over the next 10 years attracting many younger families.
The Trust’s Charitable Funds Committee has adopted the Midwifery Bereavement Suite development as its main focus for fundraising for 2019-2020.
Kettering General Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Leanne Hackshall, said: “Today we are launching the Twinkling Stars Appeal to help us very significantly improve our facilities for local families who have lost their babies.
“Our vision is to create a modern, sympathetic, purpose-built environment that will help us to better support families at this very difficult time in their lives.
“It is about doing everything we possibly can to ensure that these tragedies are handled sensitively, with appropriate privacy and dignity, and in a way that supports family members in their bereavement.”
Fundraising is already off to a flying start – how you can help
Bereaved parents and KGH staff have been aware the Trust is planning an appeal for several months and even before the Appeal was officially launched have raised £25,000 in donations.