Background Evidence indicates that psycho-educational models of bereavement group support provide greater bereavement support than social models (Marotta; Drake, 2021), due to the dual process of peer support and information sharing. At Mary Ann Evans Hospice, the bereavement support group (‘Jigsaw’) previously followed a social model facilitated by volunteers where bereavement was discussed in an open, unstructured way. The impact of staff changes, combined with low uptake of new group members, led to a qualitative review in February 2020 being undertaken. Clients felt unable to discuss their bereavement freely fearing dominant group members, negatively comparing their grief to others and feeling dissatisfied with the unstructured format.
Aims Improve client experience by enhancing bereavement support provision, including bereavement education to understand grief and encouraging peer support.
Methods A qualitative evaluation/thematic analysis of the current model was undertaken. Current client and volunteer feedback, combined with evidence (Näppä, Lundgren, Axelsson, 2016; de Willoughby, 2013/14; Belmont, 2017), led to a new group structure and programme being created and delivered by an experienced psycho-educational group counsellor. Three new groups started using this model from August 2020.
Results The COVID-19 pandemic changed bereavement and a new structured programme was able to address this directly. Clients discussed, and shared, a new sense of disenfranchised grief (Albuquerque, Teixeira, Rocha, 2021).
75% increase in new group members since August 2020.
Increase in male group members.
A more time efficient model utilising the skills of one, highly trained staff member as the facilitator rather than a number of volunteers.
Feedback is positive, with clients feeling they understand their grief more and gained new coping strategies with the benefit from peer support.
Conclusion The psycho-educational model enhances bereavement support by allowing the structured education of bereavement, gaining of coping strategies, establishment of peer support and a normalisation of grief that comes from sharing similar experiences. The use of skilled professionals enabled group dynamics to be better managed and facilitation to be more effective.
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