Please Type

Bereavement Room for Warrnambool Base Hospital

Monday, 21 Nov 2022

Local foundation We’ve Got You have joined forces with South West Healthcare to establish a dedicated bereavement room for families who experience perinatal or infant loss at the Warrnambool Base Hospital.

The bereavement room will be a multi-functional space that can be used in a wide range of circumstances when families face grief, as and when it’s needed. But primarily the bereavement room (which is yet to be formally named) will be a warm and safe place to allow families to say goodbye to their baby, child or loved one.

The need for a dedicated bereavement room at the local hospital was identified by the We’ve Got You foundation, which was established by local parents Kathryn and Jared Barkla and Madeline and Matthew McConnell after the loss of their daughters Eloise and Wren.

“When we lost Wren at the Royal Children’s we were able to access a space that had all the things we needed to extend our time with Wren, and to help us make memories before saying goodbye on our terms when we were ready. It was a cocoon where we could just be and hold space until we were able to take those first few steps out into the world,” says We’ve Got You Founder Madeline McConnell.

The We’ve Got You founders have been instrumental in fundraising to establish the room, and have also had input into its design, features and décor.

“We understand that the smallest of details can mean a great deal to recently bereaved parents, and the environment in which care is delivered is of particular importance. The bereavement room will be a place where families can linger with their child and soak up all the time they need before they choose to say goodbye in their way” says South West Healthcare CEO Craig Fraser.

The room will feature a discreetly named door so that staff are aware that the family within need additional support and can approach the family with increased sensitivity. It will also feature:

  • A double bed, suitable for both the families, and the clinicians caring for the mother and baby
  • En-suite bathroom, Small kitchenette
  • Cot, fitted with suitable cooling so that parents have easy access to their baby
  • Comfortable chairs and a rocking chair
  • Appropriately designed décor

It will further enhance services on offer such as photography, the ability to make hand and foot prints, and access to legal and funeral services who specialise in peri-natal death.

Funding for the bereavement room was made possible by generous donations from the community to the We’ve Got You Foundation, including a $10,000 donation from the Hopkins Heights development and a portion of the incredible $27,000 raised at the We’ve Got You Gala ball held on Saturday night at Brother Fox in Deakin.

The implementation of the room will be managed by a newly-appointed Perinatal Bereavement Project Co-ordinator at South West Healthcare.

“We wanted to ensure that what we were able to offer families was akin to what is available in Melbourne if not better, the coordinator will be tasked with looking at best practice with respect to bereavement and ensuring that we can continue to improve our services and training for staff,” says Fraser.

“A dedicated Bereavement Coodinator will be an important link in the chain between the community and the hospital over the coming months as we make these important changes.”

It is understood that the dedicated bereavement room and accompanying staff member is a first for a Victorian regional health service, and will help bridge the gap between the care parents receive at tertiary hospitals in Melbourne, and the care they can now access in the south-west.

“When families lose a child at a hospital in Melbourne, they often return to the south-west without referral support or any ongoing care. We are keen to forge greater working relationships with our Melbourne counterparts to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and that we can begin to address some of the silent trauma that people carry with them in our community,” says Fraser.

“We are very proud to be working with We’ve Got You on a range of initiatives in this space, and I can’t thank Kathryn, Jared, Madeline and Matthew enough for letting us into their lives and for sharing their experiences with us in such an open and constructive way. Thanks to the work the foundation is doing to raise these funds, we are able to do more as a health service to support families. We’ve Got You is an incredible legacy for both Eloise and Wren, who would be proud of their parents,” says Fraser.

Page last updated: 30 November 2023

We value feedback from patients, consumers, family members and carers.