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P-7 Death, dying and bereavement: caregivers and family support in an acute hospital
  1. Kerry Messam
  1. Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust


Introduction Embracing the needs of caregivers and family is fundamental to providing kind and compassionate holistic end of life care (Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People 2014). Caring for the dying in a hospital setting can be challenging and the physical environment can impact on caregivers and family experiences (Miller et al 2021).

Method A service evaluation adopting the ‘Walking the walk’ quality improvement design provided an experienced based approach to view the hospital through the eyes of caregivers and family visiting dying loved ones (Claire Henry Associates 2019). Following ethical approval, a review group of eight participants with personal lived experience of caring for a dying relative, including marginalised groups, was selected through purposeful sampling. Restricted by the pandemic and infection control, the exercise was delivered virtually by presenting over one hundred photos and videos to participants. Focusing on four key areas of care (involvement in care of the loved one, access to help and support, care after death and the bereavement process), feedback and observational data was collected and coded using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006).

Results Generated themes reflected those within current literature. Priority areas for development included: enhancing non-verbal communication, dedicated side rooms for end of life care, provision of resources to support caregivers and family to stay at the patient’s bedside including hospitality trays, access to a quiet family room space including a kitchenette and availability of washing facilities, creating a more inclusive spiritual space and improving the décor and ambience of the mortuary visiting area. Dedicated to excellence, these initiatives have been championed by the senior leadership team and hospital charity.

Conclusion Focusing on the things that really do make a difference and embedding improvements into practice will demonstrate, as a trust, we really are prepared to care for caregivers and family of dying patients.


  1. Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 2006;3(2):77–101.

  2. Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People (2014) One Chance to get it Right – Improving people’s experiences of care in the last few days and hours of life. London: UK Government. Available at: (20/10/2021)

  3. Miller EM, Porter JE, Barbagallo MS. (2021) The Physical Hospital Environment and Its Effects on Palliative Patients and Their Families: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal.

  4. Claire Henry Associates (2019) ‘Walking the Walk ‘– a Carer’s perspective of end of life care for their love one. Available at: (20/10/2021)

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