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Caring for families when a child dies: nurses publish bereavement care standards

Guidance explains how you can do your best for grieving parents
A nurse holds the hand of an adult as bereavement care standards after the death of a child are published

Guidance explains steps nurses should take to support grieving parents

A group of childrens nurses has produced bereavement support standards to help non-specialist colleagues care for families when a child has died in hospital.

The document, produced by the National Childrens Hospitals Bereavement Network, explains what bereavement support is and recommends levels of care relatives may need.

Nurses can use the standards to develop local bereavement care policies

Co-author Francis Edwards, retired lead nurse for childrens palliative care and bereavement support at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said the standards are for any nurse or healthcare professional in settings where a child might die, for example those in the emergency department.

Mr Edwards, a founding member

Guidance explains steps nurses should take to support grieving parents


Nurses can use the bereavement care standards for child death to develop local policies and procedures Picture: iStock

A group of children’s nurses has produced bereavement support standards to help non-specialist colleagues care for families when a child has died in hospital.

The document, produced by the National Children’s Hospitals Bereavement Network, explains what bereavement support is and recommends levels of care relatives may need.

Nurses can use the standards to develop local bereavement care policies

Co-author Francis Edwards, retired lead nurse for children’s palliative care and bereavement support at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said the standards are for any nurse or healthcare professional in settings where a child might die, for example those in the emergency department.

Mr Edwards, a founding member of the bereavement network, which includes allied health professionals, said: ‘Nurses should take these standards and help develop their local policies and procedures to support families.’

The standards say families should be assigned a key worker and bereavement medical lead, explain when it is appropriate to signpost families to bereavement and mental health services and outline who needs to be informed of the death.

Key worker and clinical lead roles

In cases where a child had a life-limiting condition, the specialist liaison nurse has an established relationship with the family and is therefore often best placed to assume a key worker role.

Each hospital organisation or service should have a named clinical lead who takes responsibility for overseeing the development and delivery of bereavement care, the standard document adds.

Read the care standards 


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