Enhancing knowledge and skills

Many professionals are concerned that they have not had sufficient or appropriate training to offer grieving families the support they need. Professional carers need a clear understanding of the importance of setting boundaries in their caring relationships, both for themselves and for others.

Thankfully the death of a baby or a child in the UK is relatively rare, but this means it is often completely unexpected and can leave the family and staff caring for them shocked and distressed. Staff need to feel confident in their ability to provide the best care they can to the bereaved family. Good training that enables participants to reflect and learn from their own and others experiences, access accurate information and support those around them is vital.

- Caroline Basak, former Midwifery & Women’s Health Adviser to The Royal College of Nursing

Sharing feelings and experiences

It is important that the professionals involved with a bereaved family work as a team and are able to offer each other support and understanding. The need for support is not a sign of professional inadequacy or personal weakness, but rather a sign of maturity, recognising that you need help to do this work well. Most professional carers are very good at caring for others, but far less good at caring for themselves or for each other.

Tea pots need to be refilled if they are to carry on pouring cups of tea. Professionals and volunteers need to be cared for and supported if they are to carry on caring and offering support. Most people know this, but few actually do anything about it. Child Bereavement UK address this crucial aspect of bereavement care through its resources, courses, and helpline.

– David Trickey, Consultant Chartered Clinical Psychologist

All carers can benefit from sharing their own feelings and discussing experiences about particular situations with which they have been involved. They also benefit from hearing and learning about other people’s experiences. If you know that one of your colleagues is involved in some stressful work, try to find the time to listen to them and how they feel afterwards. It can make an enormous difference to have a colleague that cares about you. This is no less important if you are a consultant or a manager.

If you realise that you are not the only person affected by the difficulty of knowing what to say to a grieving family, you feel less alone and more able to care.

– Abla Trebble, Nurse and Health Visitor