The Bereavement Team is available to provide follow-up support to families who have experienced the death of a child in PICU. Team members, who are experienced PICU nurses and have undergone appropriate training, contact the family members by telephone approximately six weeks after the death of their child. At this time, relatives are able to receive information and have any questions or concerns addressed. The nurse is able to answer certain questions and, where necessary, refer questions to the appropriate medical staff. Family meetings can also be arranged whereby family members can meet and discuss their concerns with the appropriate health professionals.
More details on our activities can be obtained by contacting the bereavement co-ordinators. To date the service we provide has proven to be very valuable and appreciated by family and staff alike.
The PICU Bereavement Service provides support for families whose child has died in our unit. The service is based on that set up at Green Lane Hospital ICU in 1998. In December 2003 this ICU ceased to exist, due to ADHB restructuring. The Paediatric Cardiac Service amalgamated with PICU at Starship Child Health, and a new PICU Bereavement Service was established.
The Bereavement Team currently consists of a co-ordinator and 10 experienced PICU nurses. All staff joining the team are required to attend a training workshop. These workshops are run by the Bereavement Co-ordinator and the Starship Child Health Grief Counsellor. New members are always welcome.
What We Do
General role of Bereavement Team members includes the following:
Sympathy Cards: All staff are given the opportunity to sign a sympathy card for the child's family. These cards are made available for signing on the staff notice board. Anniversary cards are sent one year after the child's death.
Follow-up of Bereaved Families: All families are provided with a pamphlet introducing the Bereavement Service, and appropriate support information at the time of their child's death. Two weeks following the death, a sympathy card signed by staff members is sent, along with a letter introducing the Bereavement Team and Starship Grief Counsellor, and a book entitled "Beyond Words". At approximately six weeks following the death, the family are contacted by phone. The family are offered support by way of information, which may lead to a family meeting or counselling. Counselling is also offered to siblings and extended family members. The call also provides families with the opportunity to talk about their experience and how they are feeling with someone outside their immediate circle of family and friends.
Education: Education on end-of-life care is given to new staff at the time of orientation to PICU. The Co-ordinator and Bereavement Team members are considered a resource for staff caring for children who have died and their families. The PICU Bereavement notice board is regularly updated with relevant articles and information.
Database Management: All deaths and follow-up calls are recorded on a confidential database. This is necessary for Quality Assurance purposes and so children's details are easily accessible by the service if further follow-up is required.
Co-ordination with Other Services: The PICU Bereavement Team liaises closely with the Starship Child Health Grief Counsellor and Consult Liaison Services. Consultants and Charge Nurses from the services involved in the child's care are also kept informed as appropriate (e.g. Oncology Services). Support services such as Kai Atawhai and Tautai Fakataha are called upon as necessary.
Bereavement Co-ordinator: Ann Doran
Mail to: PICU Bereavement Service Co-ordinator, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
Starship Child Health
Private Bag 92-024
Information for Families
Information for families on death and grief can be found on Kidshealth.org.nz