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Little touches support bereaved parents at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital

Author: Claire Grady
08 July 2015

It may seem a small thing, but to grieving, recently-bereaved parents, the way they receive their child's belongings back from a hospital following their death is important.

Now an initiative to ease the return of children's property to parents after their child's death has recently been extended at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.
Parents and siblings of a child who has died are given their loved ones' possessions back in a handmade, soft fabric bag, embroidered with child-friendly motifs. The bags are provided by volunteers from Heart Children Ireland, the support group for parents and children with congenital heart defects, which also gifts hand-crafted blankets to children with heart defects.

Carol Hilliard, chair of the End of Life Committee at the country's largest children's hospital recalls how deceased children's property was previously returned in large, impersonal canvas bags.

"Some of the parents found them quite upsetting. Since we started using the new bags, I don't think there has been any family who has said 'no thanks'," she said.

"It's something very simple, but we have got good feedback about it."
The bags have been in use for about two years for the families of children who have died in Crumlin. 
But in recent months, small bags are now being provided for the families of babies who may have died elsewhere but whose bodies are brought to Crumlin for post mortem examinations.
Carol said that, as with all aspects of the care of children and their families, the End of Life Care Committee in the hospital is acutely aware of the unique needs of the family when a child dies. It had recognised some time ago that the patient property bags generally available for adults were not suitable for a children's hospital.
She expressed the hospital's thanks to Heart Children Ireland for the organisation's support.

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