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Improving psychosocial care: the way forward
  1. Karen Clarke and
  2. Tricia Wass
  1. St Wilfrid's Hospice, Eastbourne, UK


Introduction A review identified the need to:

  • Create a strategy for delivering psychosocial care

  • Develop psychosocial skills

  • Provide counselling.

Aim Undertake a pilot to

  • Allow time and give value to the psychological well-being of patients/families

  • Enable staff to recognise emotional distress and empower them to act upon it

  • Enable difficult conversations to be handled confidently and sensitively.


  • Recruited six, part time counsellors

  • Reflective sessions to share experiences

  • Introduction of 10 Psychosocial Care Champions

  • Questionnaire to establish a baseline

  • Training in providing psychosocial care

  • Clinical supervision – supervisor and supervisee training, developing documentation

  • Innovative training of volunteers and non-clinical staff in psychosocial skills.


  • Psychosocial Champions – encourage informal, regular conversations about psychosocial needs

  • Counsellors provided a safe space to express and explore patients' sense of loss

  • “Hospice brand” brought familiarity enabling counsellors to develop therapeutic relationships in short timeframe

  • Questionnaire (42% response) revealed:

  • Time and capacity – an ongoing challenge

  • Respondents were able to:

  • Identify psychological/social needs and own limitations

  • Develop trusting, non-judgemental relationships with patients/carers.


  • Insufficient capacity to improve psychosocial data – next phase

  • Questionnaire will be repeated to assess the progress made.

Conclusion This pilot phase has identified the need to have a full time resource driving psychosocial care who will:

  • Ensure specialist and general psychosocial support for patients/families is available at all times

  • Continue to develop the MDT

  • Create a culture where people feel confident to try new skills

  • Ongoing training and development

  • Develop a tool kit based on the findings from the questionnaire

  • Maintain the integration of bereavement services

  • Increase external liaison with other services

  • Explore the possibility of income generation.


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