Opening the Labour Ward Bereavement Suite at the Royal Sussex County Hospital

Bereavement midwives, Shelley Trigwell and Hayley Stevenson.

There were celebrations and tears as the new Bereavement Suite at the Royal Sussex County Hospital’s Labour Ward opened today. The suite, which is located outside the main ward, has a delivery room and a living room/bedroom. It is designed to give parents and families a sympathetic environment in which to spend time with their babies.

Hayley Stevenson, Labour Ward and Pregnancy Loss Lead, explained the importance of the suite.
“After loosing a baby, parents and families find it very hard to stay on the labour ward. They are surrounded by the sounds and activities of birth, including the cries of other babies. This suite will allow them to spend time with their child in a safe environment where they can form the bonds and memories that are so important to the grieving process.”

Hayley and her fellow Bereavement Midwife, Shelley Trigwell, have been advocating for a Bereavement Suite since they both came into post. They had started fund raising for the suite with two neonatal bereavement charities, Abigail’s Footsteps and Oscar’s Wish Foundation. They expected to be able to open the suite in January 2019 at the earliest. Then the team at Abigail’s Footsteps suggested putting the project forward for support from Novus Property Solutions.

Novus were celebrating five years of operation by supporting five projects with £20,000 of free work. There were many applications for the funds and staff at the company voted on which they wanted to support. Fortunately the Bereavement Suite was in the top five, and what was at least another six months of hard work was suddenly reduced to four weeks, two for preparation and two for the conversion works on the rooms.

“It was the best surprise in the world,” explained Shelley,”but suddenly we had to get everything sorted in very short order. Everyone pulled together and here we are with the suite that we need so badly. If it weren’t for Novus, Abigail’s Footsteps and Oscar’s Wish Foundation, that have supplied all the furnishings for the suite, this never would have happened. I can’t thank them enough, or all the staff in the trust who have made this possible.”

The suite is now fully operational and will help more than 100 families a year cope, at one of the most difficult of times.