iHV launches a series of six new Good Practice Points (GPPs) for health visitors on loss, bereavement and supporting families with grief during National Grief Awareness Week (#NGAW20):

GPP – Supporting families experiencing pregnancy loss or the death of an unborn baby

  • This GPP covers miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancy, termination of pregnancy for foetal anomaly and multifoetal pregnancy reduction (ToPFA) to align with 2 of the 5 pathways in NBCP. This GPP aims to support informed high quality care once a pregnancy loss has already occurred.

GPP – Supporting families following the death of a baby

  • The death of a baby is one of the most traumatic and distressing experiences and will inevitably bring about immense pain and grief. Health visitors are an important source of ongoing care and skilled support for bereaved parents in the weeks, months and years following this most tragic and traumatic of experiences.  This GPP considers Stillbirth, Neonatal Loss and Sudden Unexplained Death of an Infant (SUDI).

GPP – Supporting families following the death of an infant or child (aged 1 to 4 years)

  • The agony of losing a child of any age is unparalleled. There is no age or point in time that makes it any easier. The death of a child goes against the natural order we expect life to follow. The longing for the child and the feeling of emptiness can last a lifetime. This GPP considers the support families can benefit from when they lose an infant or child and the processes and issues pertinent for families experiencing such loss.

GPP – Supporting young children who have lost a parent

  • The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that 1% of children are likely to experience the death of their mother before they reach their 16th birthday. In England and Wales it is estimated that, each year, 7000 children will lose their mother before they reach 16-years old. Within this GPP, we consider how to support young children who have lost a parent or primary carer.

GPP – Supporting a parent when their partner dies

  • Losing a partner is devastating at any time in life, however the complexity and additional losses that are felt when you have young children can be especially difficult to endure. This can include losing the father or mother of your child, coping with your children’s grief and the pressures of parenting alone; and, combined with financial insecurity, this can be overwhelming. Within this GPP, we consider how to support a parent who has lost their partner following suicide or death whilst parenting a baby or young infant.

GPP – Supporting parents whose own parent (or early attachment figure) has died

  • Coping with the death of a parent or primary attachment figure is one of the most traumatic and distressing experiences we all face and will inevitably bring about immense pain and grief. Within this GPP, we consider how to support parents who have lost their own parent (or someone with whom they formed their primary attachment relationship with early in life) during the perinatal period and early years as a parent.

Please note that these GPPs are available to iHV members only.

If you’re not a member, please join us to get access to all of our resources.

The iHV is a self-funding charity – we can only be successful in our mission to strengthen health visiting practice if the health visiting profession and its supporters join us on our journey. We rely on our membership to develop new resources for our members.

So do join us now!

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The Institute is pleased to participate in and support National Grief Awareness Week (#NGAW20) which runs 2-8 December 2020.

Many of us have been affected by loss of a loved one this year and will recognise the importance of the key messages being shared during this awareness week. Isolation and social distancing makes grief so much more complicated but it shouldn’t limit the support being offered. Health visitors have the skills to help parents they work with to navigate their loss and can be a really important part of the support system if they put themselves in the right place at the right time. It can be difficult to find the right words, but we are offering the following to inspire confidence for practitioners.

Good Practice Points

During #NGAW20 we will be publishing a suite of five new Good Practice Points (GPPs) on different perspectives of grief and loss to support health visitor practice in this area, including:

  • Care following pregnancy loss or death of an unborn baby
  • Care following death of a baby (including stillbirth and SUDI)
  • Care following death of an infant/child (1-4years)
  • Supporting parents whose parent (or early attachment figure) dies
  • Supporting parents when their partner dies

These new GPPs will join our current revised GPP – When a parent dies

GPPs are available to our members and will be published on our website throughout this week – so look out for them!


Voices blog

We will also post a new Voices blog from Marc Harder – Sands, National Bereavement Care Pathway Project Lead this week – coming soon!


National Bereavement Care Pathway

If you haven’t visited the National Bereavement Care Pathway information yet please do. It is a pathway to improve the bereavement care offered to parents in England  following pregnancy or baby loss. There is a wealth of helpful resources and information within the pathways developed, and more than 50% of maternity provider organisations have signed up to adopt the pathways and bereavement standards in practice to date. It is a massive achievement by the team and does mean that a huge proportion of you will be working alongside midwifery colleagues working to those standards with parents in their/your care.



Make the most of the fantastic e-learning modules hosted on the e-Learning For Health (eLfH) platform. The two modules include:

  • Bereavement Care after Pregnancy Loss or Baby Death – Learning for All: this has been designed to provide support when talking to bereaved individuals. They offer suggestions and guidance about what to say and do and are suitable for anyone who might come into contact, in their work or home life, with a person bereaved through pregnancy loss or baby death.
  • Bereavement Care after Pregnancy Loss or Baby Death – Healthcare Professionals: this course is for healthcare professionals caring for newly bereaved individuals. Working through the themes of the National Bereavement Care Pathway, the course helps healthcare professionals understand the important elements of excellent bereavement care

The Good Grief Trust

Go to The Good Grief Trust website for a range of information for families and professionals relating to all aspects of grief. It really is a one stop shop. Good Grief Trust cards entitled “Help and Hope in one place” are available to all practitioners so you have these to offer families as needed. CEO Linda Magistris is keen to get these to health visitors.

Finally, keep an eye out for the national events taking place this week coordinated by The Good Grief Trust as part of the national awareness week. See programme at: http://nationalgriefawarenessweek.org/events/?event-year=2020

  • We draw your attention to Monday 7 December, which is a Bereaved Parents day and will focus on baby loss and child loss (at any age).
  • The week will finish on Tuesday 8 December with an evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral – London, an informal minute’s silence at 5pm and UK-wide buildings (including St Paul’s) being lit up in yellow from 6pm to commemorate all those lost this year.

And finally

Please keep safe and well this National Grief Awareness week. We are seeking to support the campaign to normalise grief and help people to talk about loss. Remember the resources are there for you too, should you need them.


Here at iHV, we value our many varied and trusted partnerships, through which we offer support or are supported in pursuing important outcomes for the health visiting profession with the aim of improving outcomes for children and families. We were delighted to meet Linda Magistris, Founder and CEO of The Good Grief Trust, earlier in 2019 and to be invited to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG*) on Bereavement Support, and together we proposed many ways iHV might work with The Good Grief Trust.

With the theme of #OpenUpToGrief, it is now just a few days to go to the very first UK National Grief Awareness Week #NGAW19 (2–8 December). We are proud to show our support to The Good Grief Trust (who is leading the campaign on an entirely voluntary basis) to give a national platform to the impact of grief, and to raise awareness of the significance of being open and talking about grief. Most health visitors will have lived experience of loss and bereavement, and additionally there are many ways that practitioners will come into contact with families experiencing grief (whether that be due to the loss of an unborn baby, a new infant, an older child, a partner or a parent) through their practice.

Just a few things to for your “To do list” to add your support for #NGAW19:

  1. Read our new Voices blog

We are so pleased to have had the support of Charlotte Jolliffe, Freddie’s Mum and inspirational founder of Freddie’s Wish foundation. Charlotte has shared an amazing Voices blog for us – please do read it. It reminds us of the importance of being present and compassionate, rather than feeling the need to find fixes or answers.

In Charlotte’s blog, find out about and support #DonutDay on 7 December during #NGAW19 and share a selfie of you eating a donut (Proper excuse to enjoy a donut!) on social media , please tag @Freddies_wish and #DonutDay.

  1. Check out The Good Grief Trust website

Take a look at the resources available to parents and professionals via The Good Grief Trust website – and review national and local services to support families in your area. Share with relevant organisations locally so that they can sign up if they are not represented. Be open about loss and share a picture during #NGAW19 on social media of someone you have lost and are grieving, to raise awareness of talking about grief this Christmas – tag @goodgrieftrust and add hashtags #OpenUpToGrief and #SayTheirName

  1. Look out for new iHV Good Practice Points supporting Grief

We have identified a suite of new Good Practice Points that we are seeking to produce to support health visiting practice with bereaved families and those experiencing grief. We will be working with key experts (those with lived experience) to ensure that these new resources help practitioners provide the best support to families. We hope to publish these via our website in Spring 2020.

*Note: the APPG is currently dissolved due to the current election period and closure of parliament. We look forward to meetings resuming in January 2020.