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P-29 Bereavement, loss and change due to COVID-19 in Schools, further education Colleges and youth groups
  1. Helen Evans1,
  2. Michelle McGannan1,
  3. Marie Price2,
  4. Susie Norton1,
  5. Kate Birrell3,
  6. Sarah Pearce4 and
  7. David Barclay5
  1. 1St. Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester, UK
  2. 2University of Chichester, Chichester, UK
  3. 3West Sussex County Council, Chichester, UK
  4. 4West Sussex CCG, Worthing, UK
  5. 5East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, East Sussex, UK


Background Pandemic-related issues for schools/colleges in their dealings with children/young people were apparent in the media. Pre- COVID-19 school staff attended hospice bereavement workshops but found them not specific to their needs, therefore a gap was identified. The initial approach was taken from another hospice out of area. Key issues articulated included multiple deaths/succession of deaths, psychosomatic illness in bereaved children and anxiety. Numerous pandemic-related issues may affect children (Albuquerque & Santos, 2021), and the psychological impact has been overlooked (Rapa, Dalton, Stein, 2020). West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group funded the initial education sessions and demand was immense. Compassionate Communities West Sussex awarded funding through a tender process to enable workshop development and extension.

Aim To provide education and support to teachers, teaching assistants and support roles through a suite of short, virtual sessions to schools, SEND settings, further education colleges and youth groups within West Sussex.

Methods This was an iterative process using a suite of virtual 1.5-hour sessions developed in collaboration with child bereavement experts and according to identified need. A move evolved to make these sessions homogeneous in population attendance and building onto a subsequent advanced follow-up session if needed. The sessions took place between November 2020 and March 2021. Online evaluations were completed by participants.

Results Staff from 154 schools, colleges and youth groups in West Sussex attended the workshops. Identified learning points included increased confidence in communicating with children impacted by loss and bereavement, accessing and utilising pertinent resources in addition to implementing strategies and techniques learnt.

Conclusion and take-home message These sessions were highly popular across West Sussex and differing themes emerged and evolved over the course of the delivery period. Only half of all schools and colleges in this county were reached during this project – funding and support to further develop this much-needed piece of work is hoped for later in 2021.

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