Due to advances in imaging technology and routine screening many life-shortening fetal anomalies are detectable in the early antenatal period. Whilst this allows families the opportunity to make extremely difficult decisions surrounding the progression of the pregnancy, families report a vast lack of support when deciding to continue the pregnancy in the knowledge that their baby may die before birth, during birth or shortly after.
In March 2014 the hospice was successful in securing funding for a one-year perinatal in-reach project with its initial aim of working more closely with regional neonatal units and facilitating choice for families. Due to the success of the first year’s project the hospice saw a vast increase in referrals and interest in its services, in particular the support that could be offered for an early detection, in utero baby with a life shortening anomaly.
In the twelve months prior to the project the hospice received one neonatal referral. In the past 24 months the hospice has supported 53 families having received referrals from 24 neonatal families and 29 families in the antenatal period. As a result of the continuing interest and rise in referrals into our perinatal service the hospice has been fortunate enough to have secured a further three years funding enabling further development of our specialist perinatal service.
Offering families the opportunity to access specialist perinatal palliative support from point of diagnosis (whether in the antenatal or neonatal period) has immense benefits to all involved. It allows for an individualised, consistent and integrative approach to care, ensuring that families are offered the choices of place of care, place of death and the services they feel most beneficial to them as as a family, resulting in a more compassionate and positive experience.
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