"“It was like an airbag, it cushioned the blow”: A multi-site qualitative study of bereaved parents’ experiences of using cooling facilities

Julia Hackett, Emily Heavey, Bryony Beresford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The death of a child is an acutely distressing experience. Evidence on the benefits and value to parents of spending time with their child’s body following their death means this is now integrated into routine practice. UK children’s hospices have a tradition of offering parents opportunity to use cooling facilities to extend this time by slowing deterioration of the body.

Aim: To explore parents’ experiences of using cooling facilities and their beliefs about how it shaped their experiences of the very early days of bereavement, and on-going grieving processes.

Methods: Multi-site qualitative study employing in-depth interviews with bereaved parents whose child had died within the previous 36 months and had used a CF provided by a UK children’s hospice. Data were analysed using narrative and thematic approaches.

Results: Parents were recruited via 8 children’s hospices in England and Wales. A quarter of families approached were recruited, 23 interviews were completed. The ways parents used cooling facilities varied considerably. There was unanimous agreement on their value and benefits. We found evidence that using a cooling facility supported parents to begin to engage with the grief tasks. As well as easing the immediate experience, use of cooling facilities may influence bereavement outcomes in the longer term.

Conclusions: CFs are a core element of UK children’s hospice provision. Findings demonstrate how they support early parental grieving processes. This has implications for informing evidence-based practice within children’s hospices and NHS services who are beginning to offer this provision.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPalliative Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Oct 2021

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