Hospital to Home – a new service to support grieving families following stillbirth

Today the Federal Government’s Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, announced the launch of National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, with an investment of $52 million to improve women’s health. As part of this announcement, $1.3 million will go towards launching a Hospital to Home service to support families following a stillbirth.

Sands Australia CEO, Jackie Mead, says “this announcement is a wonderful step in ensuring that continued care is available to families throughout Australia. It gives recognition that the Government hears bereaved parents and understands the impact of stillbirth on grieving families”.

Hospital to Home is an 18-month pilot program to be rolled out in five hospitals throughout Australia, using these bases to provide outreach support to bereaved parents across the community.

Ms Mead says that ongoing support to families is a must. “With approximately six families every day losing a baby to stillbirth, Sands recognises the need to provide continued support for those who feel isolated and lost in the days following the death of a baby. One of the key messages amongst the bereaved parent community is that it is the time after leaving the hospital, when you are at a house set-up for a new baby, without a baby to care for, that is the hardest”.

Ms Mead stresses “the importance of providing families with the offer of having support when they leave the hospital and arrive home”. Sands will be on-had to offer in hospital support to assist with memory making and funeral arrangements. Upon returning home Sands will deliver a peer supported model that provides connections to professional services, where required. The specifics of each program will be tailored to the family.

Ms Mead states that “when a family loses a baby there is a need for person centered care from someone who understands. We want to offer a parent-led approach to bereavement care so that parents can decide where they need help”.

Sands peer support model has worked for 40 years to ensure that there is always someone there for families who have experienced the loss of a baby. This pilot expands upon existing services including the 24/7 phone line, online chat services and fact to face peer support groups already available.