I work in a cardiac paediatric ICU in Auckland, New Zealand (next to Australia for those of you who don't know!). We currently have a follow-up service for parents of children who die in our unit. At one week, we send a sympathy card signed by staff members who cared for the child. At six weeks, we call up the family and see how they are doing. We set up family meetings with the doctors for those that need it, refer to counselling as necessary, or just provide an ear to listen to those parents who want to talk about the experience. We also get feedback as to our care at the time, and try to sort out problems that crop up so they don't happen again. I would be interested in hearing from others who have a similar programme, and compare notes as to problems you have, and what sort of time away from work that you are allowed tro run the programme.
Mar 6, '03
I used to work on an oncology unit and we never did anything like that. Good thread and a wonderful service.
Apr 15, '03
Four years ago this July, we lost our 2.5 month old son to SIDS. One thing the hospital allowed us to do - when the PICU was slow one night - was to go sit in his room. That helped me so much...I got to just sit in the quiet and remember the things that I thought I would never forget.
The other thing that helped was that they took pictures of David - at our request - and held them for us until we were ready for them.
Hope this helps. Stay in touch!
Jul 19, '03
We have a post bereavement followup program.
At the time of death we record the pt's statistics,family members ,staff involved, etc. We footprint, handprint and take a lock of hair.We offer these in a package with a memory book, and info for greiving family members and friends.( or give at a later date if they cannot accept at the time of death)
The first year we send a card on the birthday, Holidays.. with info on getting through the holidays and on the 1st anniversary of the death. We also offer a list of available support groups for bereaved family members. And a selection of books for siblings is available to help them understand what has happened.
A committee of 3 nurses in our PICU administer this program.
Feedback from families has been very positive and appreciative.
I'd love to hear feedback on this and from others with similar programs
We are presenting this topic at a Conference this fall.
Jul 20, '03
wow... this is awesome! I hope there are more facilities w/these services... I've often thought it cold to just turn the families out after a death (of any age)... it's nice to know these parents are getting some special TLC
Jul 21, '03
Thanks for the feedback. Abe, I would love to see what you present at conference. Are you publishing?
Nov 20, '03
i have just read all you post about the after care service that are set up. i am a final year nursing student and am hoping to do my reseach final paper on that of breavement aftercare and wondered if any of you could email any information that you have on it. would love to find out more of how it works in your area.
Nov 23, '03
You could go to www.adhb.govt.nz/GLICU/bereavement_sevice.htm
for a brief overview of our service. A google search can turn up all sorts of stuff, too.
Mar 25, '04
We have a follow up service for those families who lose a child whilst on our PICU. Firstly the parents are given a contact numer whereby they can contact the nurses involved with the care to talk or ask questions. Next they are offered the chance to return to the hospital to discuss the events leading up to the death (this conference involves the consultant, the nurse, the psychologist, the chaplain - if required, and the clinical psychologist). Parents are always welcome back to the unit. On the first anniversary of the death the parets receive a card from the unit letting the know that we still think of them.
Needless to say this is quite a job and we have two bereavement liason nurses on the unit plus two family liason nurses.
May 22, '06
[font="comic sans ms"]in our picu, our bereavement committee collects a lock of hair, makes hand or foot prints, gives these to parents in a memory box hand painted by volunteers. we send cards at 1 month, 6 months and 1 year after the passing of the child, as well as a holiday card with info on coping with holidays. recently we decided that siblings needed as much support as the parents, and we are in the process of starting a "huggy bear" program. each sibling of the deceased child recieves a teddy bear with a tag around it's neck that states that this bear wishes to be the child's new friend, and it knows how much they miss their sibling. the bear encourages the child to give it a hug anytime they want, and the bear will give that hug to the sibling, as well as keep a store of hugs from that sibling in heaven to give the child any time they need one. my daughter's preschool teacher gave one to her 7 years ago when her little sister passed away, and that stuffed animal is still a very important part of her life.:angel2:
May 23, '06
I have tears as I'm reading this thread. I'm so glad that hospitals are recognizing the impact these little lives have on the families and the staff. What a wonderful thing.
Our first child, a son, survived his stay in the PTCU at the University of Michigan. He was there for 9 weeks after his surgery for pulmonary atresia. He came home and died a week later from overwhelming sepsis due to NEC (yes, he was full term - they surmise it was most likely from the open heart). He died at our local ER and we're in a fairly small town so they don't really have anything (they did give us a lock of hair and took some polaroids).
The most special thing to me was when I was invited to the memorial service the U has every year. One of the social workers knew what had happened and took it upon herself to invite us. His PC even came down to find us because we hadnt' seen him since we had left the hospital. It was nice to sit and talk with him and "hash over" what may have happened.
Anyway sorry for the hijack of the thread. As a parent I am so touched that some of your hospitals are taking the time to embrace the pareints who have lost everything. It really makes a difference.