Lead Bereavement Midwife Alison speaks about our role in supporting families through loss
We caught up with Alison Rea, Bereavement Midwife at our Women’s Hospital who took us through her role and how we support families after losing a child.
Alison has been working with us now since 1996, first joining us as a student nurse and later going onto qualify as a midwife. Working with the Bereavement team for 12 years, Alison has a wealth of experience in supporting our families through some of the most challenging times of their lives. Alison gained her secondment to become the new lead of Bereavement so that she could dedicate her time solely to the department.
Alison said: “We often see families in the immediate aftermath of loss, we are able to them navigate all of the ‘what happens next questions’ and support them through this. Our contact with them can last for months, and even years through into subsequent pregnancies, we offer this for all families throughout gynaecology, obstetrics and neonates. We help to oversee what, and how care is delivered, so it is our role to know what the current local and national recommendations are, and help the Trust implement them.”
We asked our Lead Bereavement Midwife why she does what she does, day in and day out for our bereaved family.
Alison said: “I do my job, because I want families going through pregnancy loss, or the death of a baby to be cared for, by all of us with kindness, compassion and knowledge. This is for all patients and families regardless of the gestation of their baby, or the circumstances of the loss. It is wonderful to work with our teams at the Trust too, and to empower and enable them to care for families.”
Alongside the rewarding elements of her role, Alison has more challenging areas that she has to combat on a day-to-day basis.
She said: “We want everything for our families to be done correctly, because we know that if it isn't, additional distress may be caused. Sometimes it is hard to switch off, as you are thinking about what needs to be done the following day.
“Many people may think that the biggest challenge would be the sadness of the job, but I would say that ‘getting things right’ is. As a team offering specialist advice we are often sought to deal with complex and specialist situations, which can be daunting when everyone is looking to you for the expert advice, but very rewarding too.
“Part of our role is to help all the teams across the Trust care for bereaved families - it is a big task to try and keep track of what each department has and is doing to make sure that all of our bereaved families are cared for in the way that is right for them, ensuring that they all have the same offer and levels of help and support.”
Alison didn’t originally set out to be a Bereavement Midwife, she was aiming towards a role in Accident and Emergency, however - the role found her.
She said: “As you experience working in different areas you work out where your passions lie, and what you are good at. It is very natural to have apprehension and worry about caring for bereaved families, and we work with teams and individuals to give them knowledge and help them overcome any barriers to care giving.”
If you feel inspired to follow in Alison’s footsteps, you can learn more about midwifery through our Midwifery Recruitment page.
Our Lead Bereavement Midwife shared: “In order to become a Bereavement Midwife, you need to qualify as a midwife to begin with – following this, there are lots of relevant areas of expertise and courses that would be relevant to support you in your role. For example, counselling, advanced communication, mental health, histology, governance, NBCP, and many charities such as SANDS, CBUK, or Abigail’s Footsteps run quality assured training for caring for bereaved families.”