Support and education to make a difference
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network (PAIL Network) is dedicated to improving bereavement care and providing support to families who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy or the death of their baby/babies. We are a provincial program that operates as a part of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre‘s Women and Babies program.
Our support services have been tailored to meet the specific needs of grieving families, and are available at no cost to all families in the province of Ontario. We are uniquely sensitive to the experiences surrounding pregnancy and infant loss because many of us have been there, too.
Education for care providers
PAIL Network is recognized as the leading Canadian source of educational resources and materials for health-care professionals, caregivers, clergy and funeral directors on how to be a therapeutic presence with a family at the time of their loss and in the days and weeks that lie ahead.
We offer a full-day Compassionate Care Workshop for professionals who may encounter families experiencing loss. This workshop equips professionals with the information and tools they need to provide the sensitive care required by the bereaved families they care for. This workshop is co-led by two PAIL educators, including one health-care professional and one family member with a lived experience of loss. This approach provides a balanced curriculum to ensure professionals receive the practical information they need when a loss is imminent or has occurred, as well as the guidance to support a family’s psychosocial care needs.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network was founded by four bereaved families who identified a significant gap in supports and services available for families who had suffered the loss of their pregnancy or the death of their baby. Originally incorporated as Perinatal Bereavement Support Ontario (PBSO) in 1992 and becoming a registered Canadian charity in 1993. Their goals of offering free, peer-led support and providing education to health-care providers continue to be the guiding force behind PAIL Network.
PBSO changed their name to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network (PAIL) in 2012, largely due to the changing landscape of our modern society where the internet became a family’s key source of information. Families did not seek out information about “perinatal bereavement,” but instead were searching for information about “pregnancy loss” and “infant loss.” The name PAIL Network was chosen as it was a clearer representation of what we offered families, and our team of dedicated volunteers truly are the “network.”
On January 1, 2017, PAIL Network became a part of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Women and Babies Program. PAIL Network not only required the infrastructure to support our expansion, but more importantly the innovation and leadership that Sunnybrook provides to ensure that our new provincial mandate was met. This move allowed for the hiring of permanent staff, recruitment of additional volunteers, and a restructuring of our education team to ensure we have dedicated resources to deliver our Compassionate Care Workshop to even more health-care professionals.
Trained volunteers with a lived experience of loss continue to provide the facilitation of support groups, 1:1 phone support, and support for pregnancy after loss. Commitment to walking beside a family on their unique grief journey for families is what sets our volunteers apart, as they give of themselves. No one should grieve alone.
Bill 141: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, Research, and Care Act 2015
This historic bill sets out an additional duty for the Minister of Health and Long Term Care with respect to pregnancy and infant loss, specifically “to undertake research and analysis on pregnancy loss and infant death that assists those, including mothers and families, who experience such loss and that informs the establishment or expansion of programs related to such loss.”
As a result of Bill 141, PAIL Network is provincially funded to provide support for families and education to professionals. We have outlined our priorities in our strategic plan.
Provincial needs assessment
From January to March 2017, the PAIL Network team travelled to various communities to conduct the first-ever province-wide assessment of families and health-care professionals’ needs surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. This research was conducted in person and via teleconference. The purpose of this assessment was to gather data from stakeholders to determine where opportunities, gaps and potential areas of improvement exist. In addition, we asked families and health-care providers about where they would like to see PAIL Network’s focus, and for their perspectives on key initiatives for PAIL Network.
We would like to express our deepest thanks to all those who participated in the health-care professionals round table discussions.
To all the families who shared their stories — and their babies’ legacies — with us, we are so grateful for your contributions.