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Heath Hospital introduces extra support for grieving parents

A CHARITY at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff has started a scheme to give extra support to bereaved parents.

Launch day at UHW. From left: Emily Jones, Sharon O'Brien, Jane Rowlands-Mellor, Mick Antoniw AM, Rhian Burke, Vaughan Gething, Julie Hart, Steffan Simpson

Launch day: Rhian Burke (centre), with AMs Mick Antoniw (centre, left) and Vaughan Gething (centre, right) and UHW staff.

The charity, 2 Wish Upon A Star, launched the scheme in early October. In it, staff will contact parents within two days of losing their child to ask if they need any help or support.

The scheme works as a referral service. Emergency Unit (EU) staff at the hospital contact bereavement support workers from the charity who then work with the families.

Founder of the charity, Rhian Burke said: “The whole idea of the support scheme came about because families who have just lost a child or young person are not in the right frame of mind to go and seek help to deal with how they are feeling.

“Through the pathway the family can have a chat on the phone and request a home visit at a time convenient to them, if they feel they need it.

“As part of the pathway, the bereavement support worker will contact the family again within seven to 10 days of their loss and leave their contact details with them should they need further support. They will be referred to our counselling service which would then lead into peer support groups for as long as the family needs us.”

A new bereavement suite has been provided by the charity which allow families to spend precious time with their loved ones before they pass on.

The charity also provides bereavement boxes which include hair-cutting kits for cancer patients as well as elephant teddy bears for the patient and any siblings.

The Children's Hospital for Wales at UHW

The Children’s Hospital for Wales at UHW

Sharon O’Brien, lead nurse for Emergency Medicine at UHW said: “Bereavement is the worst part of our job but this pathway gives us the opportunity to help support families better at the time they most need it.

“The bereavement room and boxes  have made such a difference to families and our staff who are dealing with loss and provide some comfort at a difficult time.”

Mrs Burke met Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething at the EU before the launch of the scheme.

Mr Gething said: “I was pleased to meet Rhian to talk about the inspiring work 2 Wish Upon A Star does to support parents who have lost a child suddenly and unexpectedly.

“It is important people who are affected by a sudden bereavement are supported sensitively.

“Charities play a crucial role in supporting people and I am very happy to support such work being undertaken in partnership with NHS.”

The charity now aims to raise money to build on this pilot scheme and improve bereavement services in Wales. Mrs Burke says it has have already started work in Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr and aims to make sure every A and E department in Wales has suitable bereavement facilities within three years.

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