Cheryl Titherly, Improving Bereavement Care Manager, Sands
Cheryl Titherly, Improving Bereavement Care Manager, Sands | 6 March 2017

Ahead of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Midwifery Awards on 7 March 2017 Cheryl Titherly, Bereavement Care Manager at Sands, explains why the inaugural Sands Award for Bereavement Care is important in promoting excellent quality of care for parents whose baby has died.

When a baby dies, the care that parents receive from healthcare professionals can have a huge impact on their long-term wellbeing. Good care cannot remove the pain and devastation that parents experience, but it can offer vital support to the parents and families of a baby who has died, and the positive impact of good care can have long lasting effects.

Following the results of our recent audit of bereavement care provision in UK Maternity units, we know that bereavement care for parents can be improved with both better resourcing and improved access to bereavement care training. Sands also believes that championing excellent care can play a key role in providing a benchmark of good care, promoting sharing best practice and helping to empower healthcare professionals to improve the care parents receive after their baby has died.

The RCM Awards Sands Award for Bereavement Care Shortlist

The Sands Award for Bereavement Care recognises excellence in bereavement care provision by maternity staff for women and their families when a baby dies. Tuesday’s award will be won by one of the four shortlisted entries, all of whom provide high quality, parent-centred, empathic and safe bereavement care.  It is fantastic to be able to highlight their achievements with this award. The four shortlisted entries for the award are:

Bereavement care
Louise Bardon and Angela O’Toole; East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

“This entry endeavours to demonstrate the huge developments being made in bereavement care to improve practice and support for parents, families and staff, and the impact this has both on clinical practice, fundraising and the ongoing development of our service.”

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust [HEFT] Bereavement Team
Clare Beesley; Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust

“HEFT has its own bereavement facilities in a home-from-home environment that creates a special place where families feel safe and cared for. Within the unit, they have their own baby mortuary facilities, so families know where their baby is at all times and can come back following discharge whenever they wish, in a familiar environment where staff know them and their baby.”

Honeysuckle Bereavement Team
Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

“The team is passionate about the care they provide and are committed to treating babies and families with compassion, dignity, empathy and respect. They enable families to create positive memories at an emotional time.”

Using simulation-based education to teach students about bereavement care
Anne Leyland; University of Salford

“Undergraduates often experience anxiety when dealing with bereaved parents. At Salford, simulation-based education teaches students about caring for and communicating with bereaved parents, with a scenario based on diagnosis of an intra-uterine death at 38 weeks.”


The Sands Bereavement Care Award is one of several awards at the RCM Annual Midwifery Awards 2017. Since 2004, the RCM Annual Midwifery Awards have rewarded, celebrated and shared outstanding achievement in midwifery across the UK. They recognise the best new evidence-based practice projects and the best in team working. They discover outstanding individuals making a difference for women, families and the newborn. Find out more about the awards, and the work of the RCM, on their website.