Child Death Reviews: Scottish Government Steering Group Report

The report of the Scottish Government Child Death Reviews Steering Group setting out recommendations for establishing a national child death review system in Scotland.

Annex 6

Guidance notes for a Family Engagement Person appointed through the Child Death Review process (see Chapter 4)

As a national standard, the following ought to be developed:

  • Within 7 days of notification of the death from the NRC, the Regional Office is to have agreed and documented the identity of the Family Engagement Person who will support the family; and when they intend to make contact with the parents/carers to discuss the CDR process.
  • The appointed person should (wherever possible) already be known to the family.
  • The appointed person should gather relevant information about support already in place for the family and link with key professionals from other organisations in this regard.
  • The parents/carers should be offered face-to-face contact. If this is not their preference, then contact through an agreed method should be offered.
  • Literature should also be offered to support what has been discussed regarding the CDR process and function.
  • Correspondence to inform parents/carers of the Child Death Review process is not the preferred initial form of communication, but may have to be used where other methods of engaging have not succeeded.
  • Parents/carers should be informed at each stage of the process and of any outcomes.
  • Delays that may occur in the Review process should be explained to the parents/carers concerned.
  • Parents/carers should have information about a person they can contact at regional or national level should they have any comments, complaints or questions.
  • The Family Engagement Person offering support should have available a range of information on organisations to whom they may refer the family, for ongoing bereavement support.
  • The Family Engagement Person should have an awareness of how the death of a child and the complex grief that this brings can affect the responses of parents/carers, and why they perhaps may seem to not wish to engage.

It is noteworthy that:

1. Information given only once may not be processed.

2. Parents/carers may suffer from extreme guilt and feel they have failed to protect their child.

3. Anger is often an outlet for the frustration felt by parents/carers and may be directed towards key people supporting them and imparting information to them.

4. Suicidal intent can be present and early professional intervention may be appropriate.

5. The questioning of, or a loss of faith or spiritual beliefs are common - the Family Engagement Person should be aware of sources from which relevant assistance may be sought in this regard.


Email: Mary Sloan

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