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New bereavement suite provides families a dedicated space to say goodbye

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A new birthing and bereavement suite was officially opened at University Hospital of North Durham this week.

Developed in partnership with CDDFT Charity and 4Louis (a charity that works across the country to support anyone affected by child loss), this suite is a collaborative effort to support families navigating miscarriage, stillbirth, and child loss.

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The Serenity Suite, co-funded by CDDFT Charity and 4Louis is designed to provide a sensitive and supportive environment for families during an immensely difficult time and will be used only in cases where parents have experienced or are likely to soon experience pregnancy loss from 18 weeks gestation.

See a video tour of the Serenity Suite below.

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It is a self-contained suite which adjoins a delivery room. The suite has an en-suite wet room, a double bed, dining table and chairs, comfortable seating and homely touches. Families also have exclusive access to an adjourning kitchen with kettle, fridge and microwave.

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Charlotte Jones labour ward co-ordinator said: "We have been working hard to fundraise for a dedicated bereavement suite here at University Hospital of North Durham for some time. We are thrilled to have this dedicated space for grieving parents, to provide comfort, dignity, and support during an unimaginably challenging period."

The suite offers a dedicated space for families to say goodbye, providing a comfortable and non-clinical environment for parents to spend time with their baby while preparing to say goodbye.

Bob McGurrell 4Louis Chief Operating Officer emphasised the importance of such facilities being available for families: "While no facilities can lessen the grief and anguish bereaved parents may feel, we know how important well-designed bereavement suites are to ensure that appropriate care is delivered in the most sensitive environment possible."

The suite was officially opened on Tuesday 27 February by former matron Linda Ibbetson, CDDFT Charity Development Manager Pat Chambers and Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnership lead Cathy Harvey.

L-R Bob McGurrell Tracey McGurrell Kevin Fisher Cathy Harvey PatChambers Dave Clarke Paula Parnaby

Pat Chambers Charity Development Manager said: "We are so very grateful to 4Louis for their help and support throughout this project and want to thank them for helping us to achieve such an outstanding facility for families here at University Hospital of North Durham."

The Serenity Suite is positioned to minimise contact with other wards to ensure privacy and shields bereaved parents from potentially distressing sights or sounds thanks to soundproofing, to provide a peaceful atmosphere for families.

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Cathy Harvey added: "The new maternity bereavement suite is all about improving the settings and care, compassion and support offered to bereaved parents and families, alongside our specialist charities and support groups."

The suite is strategically located near the labour ward to ensure continuous care and support for mothers during labour and birth in circumstances where the baby is known to have died before labour.

CDDFT Charity, in collaboration with 4Louis and the maternity team at University Hospital of North Durham is proud to have contributed to this project.

Through donations and community support, CDDFT Charity continues to fund projects that enhance patient care and experience across hospital and community services.

If you are able to support this vital work, please contact the CDDFT Charity team.

'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital