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Support Groups

There are two Support Groups offered by the Cana Movement, the first is the Stillbirth And Neo natal Death Society (Malta) - SANDS, and the other is the Tiny Infant Parents Support Group - TIPS.
Here is some information on both the groups.

Stillbirth And Neo Natal Death Society (Malta) - SANDS
The beginnings of SANDS Malta where in November 1994 when a number of SANDS founder members had met at a bereaved parent's home after this parent had wrote a letter in a local newspaper. Another meeting followed in 1995. SANDS (Malta) was officially established in January 1996 by a group of bereaved parents and members of staff of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology with the assistance of the Cana Movement.
It now comprises a group of volunteers from various disciplines namely that of obstetrics, midwifery, nursing, social work, counseling and bereaved parents themselves. SANDS (Malta) is affiliated to SANDS (U.K).
The primary aims of the Society are:
  • To offer immediate support to the newly bereaved parents.
  • To facilitate the process of bereavement through Support Groups.
  • To raise awareness amongst hospital staff and society in general as to the needs of bereaved parents.
  • To offer personal counseling if needed.

Literature pertaining to psychological research has shown that adequate support helps significantly during the grieving process. In essence the amplitude of the anger phase and the duration of the depressive phase are significantly reduced. With our particular setup not only do we help our patients psychologically but we also help them medically, especially in the direction of the patients' general health and their future pregnancies. SANDS has also contributed in elevating the profile of the Government Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has helped other Obstetric Units in dealing with these difficult cases.

Work carried out by SANDS (Malta)
Hospital Support - When a baby dies, members from SANDS (Malta), who work within the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at St.Luke's Hospital, visit the bereaved parents and offer immediate support. This support could be of an emotional and informative nature. The parents are asked if they would like to see and be with the child for as long as possible. Other children and family members like grandparents are also encouraged to visit and hold the child. Photographs and other mementos like foot and handprints and locks of hair are taken. This is seen as helping the parents acknowledge the fact that they did have a baby whom they can miss and mourn.

Support Groups - After about 6 weeks the parents are offered the opportunity to attend the SANDS Support Group sessions. These sessions are held once a week for seven weeks at St Luke's Hospital. They are semi-structured in format and are based on tasks that need to be worked through, admittedly, with a lot of grief and pain. The tasks that are discussed are the following:
  • To accept the reality of the loss.
  • To work through the pain of grief.
  • To adjust to an environment in which the baby is missing
  • To carry the memory of the baby while living a full life.
Topics that are reflected upon include the necessity to mourn, society and the bereaved parents, grief and grieving. These deeply emotional topics are also interspersed with related reflections, poems, videos and songs by which the parents are helped to bring out the grief with the ultimate aim of helping them to gradually reinvest in life and in the future.

SANDS may be cintacted either via telephone on 21 238 068 and 21 238 942, or by snail mail:
The Secretary, SANDS (Malta)
Cana Movement, Catholic Institute

Alternatively, one can contact SANDS via email on support@canamovement.org
Tiny Infant Parents Support Group - TIPS
TIPS was set up in Malta in the summer of 1997. It was the idea of Janice Buttigieg and Louise Farrugia.
Janice's daughter Victoria was born in London in 1993 at 27 weeks gestation and weighed 1kilo at birth. Victoria spent a total of 18 weeks in the SCBU. When Janice came to live in Malta she met Louise, who had also given birth at 27 weeks. Louise's daughter Nicole weighed only 525g at birth and due to various complications had to remain in special care for nine months. Janice and Louise got together and came up with the idea of TIPS.
They chose the logo of the mother kangaroo with the baby joey in her pouch to represent the group because as you may be aware when the baby kangaroo is born it is no bigger than your small finger. It then crawls its' way up to the pouch and there it remains feeding and keeping warm and safe until it is big enough and strong enough to face the outside world. They feel that this represents the birth of a tiny premature baby, who will stay in the care and warmth of the special care baby unit until he or she can go home.
The aims of TIPS are as follows:  
  • To support and care for the parents of premature babies, whilst the baby is in hospital and once the baby has come home.
  • To put new parents of special care babies in contact with other parents who have been through a similar experience.
  • To encourage new and supportive friendships.
  • To raise awareness amongst health personnel, family members and the public in general, of the needs of these parents.
  • To offer contact and support to these parents through organised social gatherings for as long as they feel they need.
  • To raise funds to help buy specialised equipment needed by SCBU.

As a result of several very successful fund raising campaigns we have been able to donate several pieces of vital life saving equipment to the SCBU. This equipment includes a CPAP monitor, Digitrapper pH, Biliblanket, blood glucose analyser, pulse oximeter and apnoea alarms.
Would you like to talk to someone who, like you, has had a baby in Special Care and understands the difficulties? We are available at any time for help or just for a chat and a cup of coffee. If you are feeling worried or isolated, it may help to talk to someone who has had a similar experience of having a premature baby.

Louise Farrugia - 9944 4861
Janice Buttigieg - 9925 5698 
Didi Busietta - 9944 4862

73 Bir-Bal Street, Balzan BZN9015, Malta
Email: info@kidsmalta.com
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