HRH the Countess of Wessex visits Abigail’s Place
Date: 25 April 2017
Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex visited the maternity bereavement suite at the Medway Maritime Hospital, Gillingham on Wednesday 19 April 2017. The Countess, whose original visit in November last year was cancelled due to bad weather, is particularly involved with charities relating to children and families.
This major project has been funded by stillbirth charity Abigail’s Footsteps and marks the end of a successful partnership with construction firm Umbra Services and other local businesses. The scheme has also benefitted from significant donations from charity supporters from across Kent and support from Medway NHS Foundation Trust.
David Ward, co-founder of Abigail’s Footsteps said:
“We are delighted and honoured that HRH the Countess of Wessex is visiting Abigail’s Place. This is our first purpose built bereavement suite where parents can spend precious time with their stillborn baby away from the cries of new-borns. It is now the template for maternity units across the country and we are already working with other trusts to help them to achieve the same high standards.”
Abigail’s Place was recently cited in Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report. The CQC described the suite as “…the gold standard in the provision of care for parents and families who experience a stillbirth”. The CQC also said that the suite provided private and compassionate support which was deemed as ‘outstanding practice’.
Abigail’s Footsteps continues to campaign and fundraise nationally to help other NHS hospitals secure maternity bereavement suites. The charity is also leading the campaign to secure compulsory bereavement training for all midwives to raise the standard of care across the UK.
Lesley Dwyer, Chief Executive at Medway NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Abigail’s Place has been recognised as the gold-standard of bereavement care by the CQC and we are so proud to offer this much needed service to parents and their family members.
“Since opening in November, Abigail’s Place has given families the opportunity to grieve together and say goodbye in a quiet and comforting environment, with the knowledge that they have a dedicated Bereavement Midwife to speak with at all times. The facility took months of hard work and commitment to come to fruition, especially from David and Jo Ward - we deeply appreciate their contribution to the Trust.
“We are also delighted to welcome The Countess of Wessex to mark this poignant achievement and recognise the importance of providing bereavement care to people who have tragically lost their baby”.
Abigail’s Footsteps is focused on improving the support available to bereaved families. To date the charity has:
- Developed an E learning programme for midwives in conjunction with the RCM and Sands
- Provided cold cots, cameras and memory sticks so that parents can have precious memories of their babies
- Funded and co-produced an award winning educational film that shows stillbirth from a mother’s perspective
- Created a wish list for all hospitals within the UK to fill the gaps where specialist equipment is still needed.
Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex visited the maternity bereavement suite at the Medway Maritime Hospital, Gillingham on Wednesday 19 April 2017.