A dedicated bereavement suite at Tunbridge Wells Hospital for women and their partners experiencing pregnancy loss from 16 weeks onward, has been given a makeover.
Tunbridge Wells Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society group, also known as SANDS, set up a JustGiving page to help raise money to update the Hope Butler Suite.
The group then put the Trust in touch with interior designer Justine Hodgson who used the money to add little touches such as beside tables, artwork, a rocking chair, lamps, and bedding to help provide a tranquil environment for families.
Named in honour of Hope Butler who was sadly born sleeping at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in 1995, the suite consists of a bedroom, bathroom, lobby and kitchen. Hope’s death also led to the founding of the Tunbridge Wells SANDS group which furnished of the suite when the hospital opened its doors in 2011.
Harriet Burke, who works as a Bereavement Support Midwife for the Trust, said: “We feel very fortunate to be able to offer parents the use of the Hope Butler Suite during their time of loss and have received positive feedback from families that have sadly found themselves in need of it.
“Many parents have benefitted from the thoughtful touches including the beautiful rocking chair and the lamps that create soft lighting.
“On behalf of the Trust, we would like to say huge heartfelt thank you to all of those who were involved in the refurbishment – in particular Emma Jefferys at SANDS who put us in touch with Justine. Without their dedication to fundraising, support and attention to detail we would not have this beautiful suite to allow parents to spend private time with their babies and grieve in comfort.”
Emma Jefferys, from SANDS, said: “We liaise with the midwives at Tunbridge Wells Hospital on a regular basis to ensure the Hope Butler Suite is as comfortable and well-equipped as possible, so when the Trust approached the group and asked if it could help to provide some updates SANDS was only too happy to help.
“We hope the recent improvements help to provide even more of a sanctuary for families who are sadly in the first stages of the grieving process.”
Bereavement Support Midwives introduced to the Trust in November 2015 to provide support to families who experience pregnancy loss from 13 weeks and those whose baby has passed away within the first four weeks of being born.
Sarah Phillips, who also works as a Bereavement Support Midwife at MTW, said: “We also support families who have ‘rainbow babies’ – babies born following previous loss. This journey is often fraught and filled with worry as parents struggle to cope with the fear that they may not get to take their baby home again.
“Our job is to provide extra care and support in addition to the community midwives and consultants, and as we tend to be the first point of contact at the beginning of their pregnancy, we can request an early scan and let the consultant know they are pregnant again.
“We can also attend every scan and appointment for moral support – something which proved to be invaluable during Covid due to social distancing measures being in place. If they have any questions for the consultant we also forward them on via email.”
Bereavement clinics were suspended during the pandemic but Harriet and Sarah both hope to start them up again as soon as social distancing restrictions end.
“The clinics are a place where women can voice their concerns,” added Sarah.
“We then counsel them through their anxieties and try and help as best we can.
“For those families who are worried about coming back to the hospital and seeing the delivery suite etc, we can arrange a tour of the maternity unit during their pregnancy, which their partner can attend too. That way they can go around the wards and departments in a calm way.”
A short video by MTW Bereavement Support Midwives Harriet Burke and Sarah Phillips thanking the Tunbridge Wells SANDS group for their help to update the Hope Butler Suite can be viewed below.