New bereavement care facility for Brighton hospital

The new bereavement suite is under construction at the Royal Sussex County Hospital
The new bereavement suite is under construction at the Royal Sussex County Hospital

A bereavement suite designed to give parents who lose a child during pregnancy the space, time and facilities they need is being built at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Contractor Novus has partnered with children’s charities Abigail’s Footsteps and Oscar’s Wish to deliver the new £20,000 suite, which will include an apartment with a bed, living space and bathroom.

The charities will be working alongside midwives from the hospital and bereaved parents to deliver the project. The concept for the suite came from the hospital’s labour ward team, who are closely involved in the operational design of the facility.

The project was chosen as part of an initiative by Novus to mark its fifth birthday, and is one of five around the UK where £20,000 is being spent on local community projects.

Hayley Stevenson, labour ward lead and specialist bereavement midwife at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, said: “There is a real and pressing need for this suite. We started fundraising with Abigail’s Footsteps and Oscar’s Wish some time ago to try and realise the plans. Now, thanks to the Novus competition, we will have the facility ready earlier than anyone could have hoped.”

Kevin Rhone, head of social value and customer service at Novus, said: “As part of the judging process we received a lot of worthy nominations, but the idea for the suite, submitted by Abigail’s Footsteps, stood out from the very beginning.

“Everyone involved in the selection was moved by the cause and the work the charity does. Abigail’s Footsteps is a fantastic organisation offering support to parents of stillborn babies and this project will offer such parents facilities that will be vital for years to come.”

Abigail’s Footsteps was founded in 2010 to improve bereavement training for healthcare professionals, provide vital amenities and to allow parents to grieve in their own space away from maternity wards.

David Ward, co-founder and CEO of Abigail’s Footsteps, said: “Many hospitals across the UK are ill-equipped to deal with stillborn or neonatal deaths, but we’re determined to change that. This fantastic contribution from Novus will go some way to helping us fulfil our dream of supporting parents across the country with bereavements.”

The Oscar’s Wish Foundation was founded in 2015 to provide support for parents, families and siblings who experience the loss of their baby. It is raising funds to furnish the suite and is advising on how the facility is set up.