Introduction Bereavement support comes in different forms and degrees of formality, reflecting the varying needs of bereaved people. Following the Covid-19 pandemic there is renewed interest in improving the support available for bereaved people, seen in the UK Commission on Bereavement. This (pre-pandemic) Marie Curie funded study identified core outcomes for the evaluation of adult bereavement support interventions. The first part of this study involved a stakeholder-workshop with people from professional and lived experience backgrounds.
Aims The workshop aimed to gather stakeholder views on what good bereavement support looks like and the impacts that it should have for bereaved service users.
Method 21 bereaved and professional stakeholders were divided into three groups and asked to discuss how support services should benefit their service users. Key themes were identified from these sessions.
Results Three main themes emerged from the discussions; informal support and self-management; the purpose and impacts of bereavement service support and the timing, accessibility and quality of support. It was agreed that support services should work to promote resilience, enable coping and improve social functioning and relationships, offering practical as well as emotional support. Support should be tailored to individual needs, be accessible to people from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and be available at different stages of the bereavement process. Identifying and responding to those with more complex grief or mental health problems is vital.
Conclusion This stakeholder workshop identified key support functions, impacts and goals for adult bereavement services, which align with resilience and public health approaches to bereavement support.
Workshop themes featured centrally in the two core outcomes identified in the wider study (‘ability to cope’ and ‘quality of life and wellbeing’).
Identifying the best mechanisms and modalities for achieving these outcomes presents a challenge and opportunity, as we respond to the adaptations and renewed interest in bereavement support brought by the pandemic.
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