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P-33 Digital bereavement training to produce compassionate employers and public facing organisations
  1. Laura Barrett and
  2. Felicity Dewhurst
  1. St Oswald’s Hospice, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Background Marie Curie’s recent ‘Better End of Life Care’ report highlighted a lack of bereavement support nationally despite excess need exacerbated by COVID-19. Bereavement support should increase peoples’ ability to cope and improve wellbeing, fundamental to enable bereaved individuals to return to work. Systems approaches to mass bereavement must create compassionate employers.

Aims To produce and evaluate a digitally delivered bereavement training package for employers and public-facing-organisations.

Methods St Oswald’s Hospice’s regional bereavement service started providing bereavement training for public and private sector employers in 2021. This unique enterprise teaches individuals in positions which support staff wellbeing about the experience and impact of being bereaved, how they can support bereaved employees and why it is important. Participants are asked to express how confident they feel supporting someone who has been bereaved both before and after the training and to complete a quantitative and qualitative evaluation.

Results 229 participants from 59 nationwide organisations including councils, charities, universities, and health-services have been trained. Those that were confident to help and support someone who has been bereaved increased from 21% before to 76% after training. Participants also felt more comfortable talking about death and dying (34% before, 78% after training). 98% of participants felt their expectations of the training were met and 88% stated they would recommend the training. Qualitative comments focussed on the sessions being informative, practical, and well delivered.

‘The session was very informative and was delivered with great sensitivity. I’d highly recommend this to anyone working in or leading a team.’

Conclusion This project demonstrates that bereavement training can be effectively delivered to a wide range of employers and public-facing-organisations, increasing participants’ confidence in supporting employees who have been bereaved. The next phase of this project is to expand training and perform qualitative evaluation with employers, including assessing whether training has resulted in modifications to participating organisations’ bereavement policies.

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