Since 2002 Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has provided opportunities for the bereaved to comment on experiences of care for their loved one before and after death. Response rates were poor with an average of 1-2 responses every week. There was clearly a need to do more to gather the views of bereaved carers. In 2010, a new Bereavement Survey was developed using some of the questions from the VOICES (Views of Informal Carers – Evaluation of Service) survey with kind permission. The survey asks a series of 20 questions and includes a free text box. Training on how to offer the survey to relatives was provided. A covering letter makes it clear that there is no obligation to complete the survey or include personal details. The letter offers support for the bereaved both in completing the survey and for any concerns following the death. Since April 2011, 75% of all bereaved relatives have been offered the Bereavement Survey. Responses have increased to a weekly average of 5-10. These responses are reviewed weekly. Concerns that need an urgent response are identified. A monthly report is produced for each division to feedback comments to staff as well as identify actions needed to make improvements. These reports are monitored by the Trust's Bereavement and Carer Group. Emerging themes include bereaved relatives recognition of staff commitment to providing quality care at end of life. The majority felt that their relative was cared for in the right place that is, hospital although many wished that side rooms could have been available. Where concerns have been raised, these generally are focused around lack of effective communication rather than standards of physical care. Significant service improvements have included the pilot of an ‘Integrated Care after Death Pathway’ and development of trust wide Bereavement Care Standards.
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