Background Grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one but can have the potential for long term adverse effects. Bereavement services are therefore essential to provide support and to identify those at risk of harm. A ‘day after death service’ for bereaved persons is a longstanding component of bereavement care at our tertiary cancer centre. Bereaved persons are met by a clinical nurse specialist the day after the death for a face to face discussion and support needs assessment. This system aims to improve support and identify those at risk of pathological grief reactions.
Aim Conduct a quality improvement project aimed at enhancing bereavement support at our centre by incorporating feedback from bereaved persons into trust-wide education and care quality indicators.
Methods A 12 month retrospective audit was undertaken to evaluate bereavement service outcomes.This was combined with feedback from stakeholders to develop a PDSA quality improvement cycle.
Results At baseline 51 deaths were recorded in 12 months. 42 people agreed to ongoing support following accessing the day after death service. 39 people did not require any further support following a single phone call. Three bereaved persons needed additional support due to prolonged/pathological grief, and were supported appropriately.
Stakeholder satisfaction surveys revealed an 88% approval rating for emotional support and practical help, and 100% would recommend the service to others. Qualitative constructive feedback suggested enhancing methods of detecting people at high risk of pathological grief and developing an action-orientated approach to bereavement support.
Conclusion Bereavement care incurs practical as well as emotional challenges. Despite positive feedback regarding the emotional support provided by our service, there are practical areas for development. The next step of our project is to incorporate these changes into education and information processing tools, before re-evaluating progress.
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