Background Curriculum mapping exercises highlighted child bereavement as an area where competencies were difficult for trainees to achieve.
Methods In co-operation with the Child Bereavement Charity, a team of experienced professionals and educators developed a training course for paediatric registrars, built around the experiences of bereaved parents. The bereaved families are supported to speak about their experiences of their child's death, and to answer questions from trainees. Other aspects include focus on debrief, supporting yourself, discussions about post-mortem examinations with families and ‘after-death’ visits.
Results Since January 2010, five training days have been run. All courses were evaluated using qualitative evaluation sheets for participants and written feedback from parents and trainers. Of the 86 paediatric trainees, 99% agreed that the course was relevant to the audience. Participants particularly valued the opportunities to talk openly with bereaved parents and to share their experiences with colleagues. Trainers reflected on creating a learning environment where there was the peer support, time and space to reflect on the parents' contributions. It was hoped that this learning would lead to trainees being much more patient-focused in all aspects of future care. All the parents who contributed had very positive experiences. They described their participation as a ‘privilege’ and a ‘wonderful experience’. One mother concluded ‘The medics we spoke to were very kind and friendly, we felt totally comfortable talking to them. It made me feel as if our son's death had an impact on the future practice of the doctors we spoke to. [ … ] We will never forget their interest and compassion’.
Conclusions The implementation of a child bereavement course for paediatric trainees has closed a significant gap in the paediatric curriculum. Building the programme around the contributions of bereaved parents has been an extremely powerful experience for trainees, trainers and the parents themselves.
Outlook The CBC was granted funding from the Department of Health to roll out this training to other Deaneries across England. Feedback from this year's participants has led to the design of a pilot follow-up Child Bereavement Course, focusing on simulation training of communication scenarios in child bereavement, and reflection of current practice.