Hospices increasingly care for younger patients, many of whom have young children. The impact of the death of a significant person in a child’s life can have lifelong repercussions. How a child is supported during this time has the opportunity to significantly change the outcome and impact on children’s lives. Services available to children and young persons both pre- and post- bereavement are limited. Wirral Hospice St John’s (WHSJ) completed a pilot project to address this unmet need, making a real difference to bereaved children’s lives.
The psychosocial team at WHSJ undertook a scoping exercise to gain clarity into local service and support for children and young people who are anticipating or have experienced the death of an adult within their family. They aimed to understand the service gap for families who are supported by the hospice and partner palliative care providers. This work enabled a pilot project to create and deliver pre- and post- bereavement services to children and young persons whose family members access all arms of WHSJ services.
In 9 months, 41 families and 66 children were supported. Advice and support was given to professionals across health and education settings who are working with children experiencing the anticipated death of adults close to them. There has been demonstrable effective joint working led by WHSJ coordinating the input from national/local agencies. It has also been shown that placement in the hospice team has enabled strong connections with adult bereavement services and spiritual care, delivering family bereavement support and remembrance events. Feedback from this pilot from parents, families and professionals has been overwhelmingly positive.
The identified need for this service within the system suggested by stakeholder engagement (families and professionals) has been confirmed by the success of this pilot project. This has enabled WHSJ to successfully recruit a Children and Young Persons lead working across all Wirral palliative care teams to deliver pre- and post- bereavement support.
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