This month we welcome Kate Holmes, Support and Information Manager at the Lullaby Trust as our guest blogger. The Lullaby Trust is one of the Core Group partners on the National Bereavement Care Pathway and in particular provide support to those parents who are bereaved through Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI), which is one of the five pathways under the NBCP programme. Here Kate describes a day in on the Lullaby Trust Helpline…
We run two Freephone helplines – one for safer sleep for babies and the other providing a support to bereaved families whose baby has died suddenly and unexpectedly. We are a small team and we all cover the helplines.
When I arrive, I log into email and social media. Someone has sent a Facebook message simply saying ‘please help me my baby has died and I don’t know what to do’, I respond saying how I’m so sorry and asking if they will tell me a little more about their baby. I also send them a link to When a baby dies booklet.
A health visitor calls, about to visit a mum who is using a sleeping pod. We speak about our new Products Guide that we published last year with the support of Public Health England. I confirm that we do not recommend sleeping pods or nests. There are more emails about a range of safer sleep issues and one request from a health professional about our training.
Another email from a bereaved mum who has just received her baby’s Post Mortem results and is finding it difficult to understand. I ask how she is doing and if she has been offered a meeting to discuss the report and advise her to ask for this. I also tell her more about The Lullaby Trust including the support offered by our team of parent befrienders. I send links to our bereavement support literature. Email support is becoming more popular, and for many it helps to write down how they are feeling, perhaps before they feel comfortable picking up the phone and speaking to someone.
I check our online Bereavement Forum and there’s a good discussion going on between parents about what helped them when their baby died and how did they coped, no further action needed from the support team.
As the day progresses, calls begin to come in from both families and professionals. I take a call from a midwife wanting to know if CONI support (Care of the Next Infant) is available for a mum who is 8 weeks pregnant. One of our volunteer befrienders calls to talk about someone she is currently befriending. Our befrienders aren’t office-based, so our main means of communication with them is through phone and email.
I take another support call at 4.45pm from a GP in Cornwall wanting to refer a parent whose baby died recently, take the details and arrange to call the family tomorrow and put one of our bereavement pack in the post to them.
I log off the helpline at 5pm and close up for the day. I make sure the helpline is switched through to our team of volunteers who take calls after hours. I head home happy knowing we have managed to advise parents on how to sleep their baby safely, helping them to make informed choices and to understand the risks of SIDS. I reflect on the Facebook message I got first thing in the morning and hope the family have now had a chance to read our leaflet, When a Baby Dies. I hope it brings some comfort and that the family will stay in touch so we can help them further in their grief journey.