Identifying the educational needs of staff in the provision of bereavement care in a tertiary maternity hospital in Ireland

Identifying the educational needs of staff in the provision of bereavement care in a tertiary maternity hospital in Ireland

AM. Verling (1,2), T. O’Sullivan (1), I. San Lazaro Campillo (1,2), K. O’Donoghue (1,2,3)

(1) Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College Cork, Ireland, (2) National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC), University College Cork, Ireland, (3) The Irish Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research (INFANT), University College Cork, Ireland

Bereavement care is central to the provision of support in all maternity settings however, staff express fear and anxiety in caring for this patient group. Research suggests that this is often due to lack of specific training and education. The aim of this study was to obtain feedback from staff on their training needs.

A survey was designed to explore staff opinion on the preferred format for education on pregnancy loss and bereavement care including the prioritisation of topics for such training sessions. This study was conducted at Cork University Maternity Hospital, a tertiary unit with 7,500 births per annum.

94 staff completed the survey over a 4-week period. 83% (n =78) were Midwives, I3% (n=13) were Doctors, and the remaining 3% (n=3) were Allied Health Care Professionals.
Interestingly 73% of staff (69/94) responded that their educational needs in this area were currently inadequate; 75% (70/94) of staff responded with their preferred formats for education. A total of 84 suggestions were received. Thirty three percent of suggestions (28/84) proposed regular formal training days, 16% (13/84) proposed information/education sessions, 10% (8/84) recommended ward-based information sessions, 7% (6/84) small-group sessions, 6% (5/84) group discussion. Regarding education topics, staff highlighted some key areas of need including communication, investigations performed after a pregnancy loss, services and resources for parents & staff, grief counselling, documentation, and staff care.

The survey determined the specific educational training needs and suggestions from healthcare staff to support them in their provision of care for bereaved parents and families. Our plan will be to roll out training sessions for staff in keeping with their requests and to re-evaluate the programme after a 12-month time period. Maternity hospitals need to prioritise time and resources to facilitate learning in the area of bereavement care.

Ethics statement:
Full ethical approval for this study was obtained from the Local Hospitals Ethics Committee and the Local Information Governance Group (LIGG). Data access was approved by the LIGG and limited to the named authors. All data were anonymised and securely stored.

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