Health and social care professionals (including third year midwifery students) working in and around the Midlands area, who have experience in supporting bereaved parents and their families, are being invited to apply for the Elaine Thorp Bereavement Care Award.

The award commemorates the work of Elaine Thorp, a midwife who was a strong supporter of Sands. Elaine championed excellence in bereavement care and made a significant difference to families using services at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

Sands is preserving the legacy of Elaine’s work, by supporting a health and social care professional  to continue championing the work the charity does around raising awareness of the importance of offering excellent bereavement care.

The successful nominee will need to demonstrate an awareness of bereavement and loss, excellent communication skills, including communicating key messages to individuals and groups of people; empathy and emotional intelligence and an interest in Sands’ work.

Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands, said: “Improving bereavement care is of vital importance to Sands and the healthcare professionals who care for bereaved parents and their families.

"I hope as many healthcare professionals as possible in the Midlands will enter or consider nominating an exceptional colleague for the award, to help us drive forward the charity’s work to improve the care, help and support parents receive when their baby dies.”

The award winner will be expected to promote key messaging around improving bereavement care, across the Midlands area and their local professional networks from September 2018 to September 2019.

The winner’s responsibilities include signposting health and social care professionals to Sands resources (website, leaflets), and effectively promoting key messaging around improving bereavement care effectively. They will also support Sands’ work during Baby Loss Awareness Week in October.  

To support the winner, Sands will offer a package that will include a fully funded place to the 2018 Joint Conference  on 25th September in York which offers a chance for the winner to be kept up to date with the latest work and key practices in bereavement care.

A full days training for up to 20 individuals on an appropriate Sands training course offering the chance for the winner’s professional ‘team’ to support them in being a champion for Sands will also be offered.

Health and social care professionals interested in submitting an application for the award should complete this form. The closing date is 15th June at 4pm.

For further information call Nathalya Kennedy, West Network Coordinator at Sands, on 020 3897 3349 or email: nathalya.kennedy@sands.org.uk  

Elaine Thorp biography

Since Sands began in the late 1970s, a key aim has been to work collaboratively with health professionals to improve Bereavement Care.

Elaine Thorp was a strong supporter of this aim, both in word and deed, and the Elaine Thorp Bereavement Care Award celebrates and commemorates her life.

Throughout her 40 year career in the NHS, Elaine accomplished much. Prior to her involvement with Sands, Elaine was instrumental in providing bereavement care and support to parents, through her midwifery role at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, which included steering the creation of the Abby Suite, designed specifically for women experiencing a pregnancy loss.

Elaine retired from the NHS in 2007.

Elaine’s enduring involvement with Sands began with the Birmingham Group, formed more than 30 years ago. She helped instigate the annual “Celebrating Brief Lives” memorial service in Birmingham and assisted at the Sands’ services at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Elaine became a Trustee at National Sands and served as Vice-Chair, the first non-bereaved parent to do so. She became the first Sands’ West Network Co-ordinator, supporting local Sands groups in the region and she was a great supporter of the Guidelines Training for professionals.

Latterly, she briefly took on a professional HR role within Sands until she stepped down in the spring of 2013.

Sadly, Elaine died only a few months later. Her commitment, enthusiasm and depth of knowledge were much valued by her fellow Trustees as well as Sands’ staff and volunteers.

Outside of work and Sands, Elaine had a busy and full life as a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, with a host of interests and hobbies and very many friends near and far.