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Latest bereavement care guidance

Scottish Government’s revised guidance on visiting in maternity and neonatal settings sets out minimum standards in line with the 5 protection levels in Scotland. The standards cover supportive persons at antenatal appointments, birth partners during labour, birth, and postnatal care, and parents as partners in neonatal care. A key point is that every effort should be made to ensure that women who have previously suffered a loss have one supportive person accompany her to all appointments and scans subject to local risk assessments and physical distancing.

Under Scottish Government's updated guidance on COVID-19 Remobilisation in maternity and neonatal services (December 2020) NHS Boards are to provide all aspects of normal bereavement care for both parents and access to bereavement space is to continue. National Bereavement Care Pathway early adopter boards in areas at levels 2-3 or 4 should continue with their pilots as far as capacity allows. In areas at levels 0-1, pilots should continue across all five pathways in all sites.

Sands COVID-19 and bereavement care provides advice and resources including guidance on compassionate communication while wearing PPE and on sensitive and effective communication. Sands are also providing free online training on bereavement care.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have produced updated guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in pregnancy. Section 4.10 states that "Maternity services should ensure that bereavement care remains of a high standard during the COVID-19 pandemic, with continued provision of appropriate intrapartum and postnatal care, including all appropriate investigations and postnatal appointments."

Royal College of Midwives and Sands have worked together to produce revised guidance on bereavement care during the pandemic. The guidance sets out fundamental care at a time when staff may be unable to offer care as they usually would.

Staff support

NHS Education Scotland Psychosocial mental health and wellbeing support for staff pages cover looking after yourself, looking after people and looking after your staff.

The National Wellbeing Hub for health and social care staff provides resources for managers and resources for individuals including self care and normal feelings.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges COVID-19 Mental health and wellbeing provides self care tips and resource links as well as advice on supporting patients and each other.

Scottish Quality and Safety (SQS) fellows have shared visual guidance on Stress, coping and resilience.

NHS Scotland's Staying safe and well guide is for staff looking after COVID-19 patients.

Sands Helpline is available for any healthcare staff who need emotional support or practical guidance on how to provide bereavement care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Freephone Helpline 0808 164 3332 from 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and Tuesday & Thursday 9.30am to 9.30pm. Or email helpline@sands.org.uk or private message via the Sands Facebook page.

Sands are also providing free online bereavement care training. Their Finding the Words animation describes the support they offer NHS staff.

Self care apps are free to use via an NHS email. Unmind track your own mental wellbeing, Headspace guided meditation and mindfulness, Daylight personalised access to support with worry and anxiety, Sleepio CBT programme designed to help sleep.

Latest information

Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology’s Coronavirus (covid-19) infection and pregnancy page has a range of guidance for healthcare professionals including antenatal and postnatal care. You can sign up to receive email alerts when guidance is updated.

Royal College of Midwives Coronavirus (Covid-19) page has several briefings including maternity-specific clinical and employment advice.

Updated advice for neonatal settings including parents and visitors in NNU has been published by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. There is an earlier supplement on parents’ access to their baby in neonatal care

Society and College of Radiographers have issued a statement in collaboration with other bodies on recording video clips during ultrasound scans.

Royal College of General Practitioners have developed a guide for postnatal maternal and infant care.  GPs should offer a postnatal check to mothers who have experienced stillbirth or neonatal
death, handling this with appropriate sensitivity and asking about the father/partner and how they are coping. 

You may also want to signpost information and support to parents.

We are updating our information on COVID-19 frequently. Please let us know what you need at this time.

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