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New specialist bereavement service launched

January 18, 2024

As part of our strategy to reach every family that need us, families of babies or children who have died suddenly, and not just those previously known to the charity, can now access the expert and comprehensive bereavement care that Shooting Star Children’s Hospices can provide to help cope with the death of a child.

Our extended bereavement service provides a new pathway of care which includes a rapid-response referral system and specialist trauma therapies. Immediate support can be provided to schools and nurseries, and the team has expanded to make sure they can respond to this demand.

Healthcare professionals across the catchment have not hesitated to ensure families are referred, so that during the unimaginable days that follow the tragic death of a child, the family are given the highly specialist, outstanding care that they need.  

Illustrating just how important Shooting Star’s bereavement service is to the local community, data released last year by The National Child Mortality Database showed that child deaths increased by 2.1% in Surrey, 13.4% in south-west London and 22.8% in north-west London in the year ending 31 March 2023.

We are working in partnership with the north-west London Child Death Review Team to reach families in north-west London, an area of our catchment that experiences the highest number of infant and child deaths, the greatest level of deprivation and limited or no local support for families bereaved of their child.  

“Shooting Star Children’s Hospices believes that every family should have access to the specialist care they need when grieving the death of their child,” said Sarah Hodkinson, Head of Psychosocial Services at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.

“This cannot continue to exclude families whose baby or child dies unexpectedly.

“The team at Shooting Star have been working tirelessly to ensure that they are equipped to provide the very best of care, tailored to the needs of different types of death, so that no family is left on their own without bereavement care.  

“Since the launch of our extended bereavement service, it’s been both encouraging and sobering to see how many referrals we’ve already had come through to us and how clearly welcome and much needed this support is. We feel humbled to be able to be there for families.

“There is a tangible sadness in the team as we learn of each new death and a moment in which we imagine this horror happening to a loved one. Then, without hesitation, we race out to family homes, taking with us all the kit and compassion that we know will be needed.

“We surround each family with an expert network of support and we have the daily privilege of seeing the impact of our care; care that time and time again families describe as a lifeline in their darkest moments.”   

Bereaved families supported by us can benefit from flexible, tailored support from their highly specialised care team. Services provided at our Hampton site, Shooting Star House, include trauma-informed counselling and art therapies, complementary therapies, siblings’ groups, mums, dads and grandparents’ groups, beautiful memorial days for the whole family, hydrotherapy sessions and an opportunity to meet with our team of Family Support Workers. 

Read more about the breadth of the services we provide and find out how you can help us to continue to deliver this vital support.