Background Ardgowan Hospice reflected on a report by Grandparents Plus (Wellard, Meakings, Farmer, et al., 2017) which noted that 38% of children in kinship care had already experienced the death of one or both parents. The foreword to this report advised that the report ‘shone a light on a group of young people that has been invisible to policy makers and service providers.’ The hospice recognised that this group of bereaved young people could be overlooked by services and that no service in our local area of Inverclyde offered services specific to the needs of bereaved children and young people who live in kinship care networks.
Aims To provide support to both formal and informal kinship families offering bereavement support, one-to-one and group sessions as well as delivering awareness raising sessions to key partners and established groups.
Methods We established a multi-agency working group incorporating Ardgowan Hospice, Barnardo’s and the local authority Kinship team. This group highlighted a gap in service provision for change and loss.
We then met with the local kinship group, Family Ties, (a statutory social work- led support group for formal kinship carers) and ran loss and change sessions. The information gathered at these sessions helped us plan our interventions and meet the needs of this disadvantaged group.
Result One of the most successful elements of this project was the strong partnerships forged and the collaborative working between organisations. These relationships have continued after the project finished due to the success of the Kinship Kickabout, a project for new ‘blended’ families, helping them to come together through developing family team building and having fun. The project also incorporated telling stories through the medium of comics, a creative and successful way to engage and encourage children and young people to tell their personal story. We also held awareness sessions focusing on helping Kinship carers gain a better understanding of how best to support children and young people with the change and loss experienced in their lives.
In doing this project, Ardgowan hospice has increased its awareness of children and young people in Kinship care, including having changed the way that we highlight them in our clinical records and in how we capture the respective data. We have enhanced our links with statutory and other voluntary services, ensuring that children and young people in Kinship care are better able to receive integrated care at the point of need. More than that we have been able to recognise and celebrate the richness of kinship networks and the many ways in which kith and kin extend their networks to incorporate and care for bereaved children and young people.
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