Background Over the past three years the Child and Adolescent Bereavement Service (CABS) at Harlington Hospice has increased referral pathways by extending partnerships with the Integrated Care System, schools, Social Services, CAMHS and healthcare professionals. This joint approach to working has identified significant gaps in bereavement support for clients with a neurodiversity diagnosis, especially for those with more challenging grief responses where families and schools struggle to understand and manage the impact of death and dying.
Aims Our aim is to provide evidence-based creative therapy support for neurodivergent bereaved clients who are isolated in their grieving processes. We also run a monthly themed psychoeducation group for parents/carers who struggle to manage and understand the more challenging aspects of neurodiverse grief.
Methods We are well placed to provide creative therapies (drama and art psychotherapy), where non-verbal and sensory means of communication are used with thorough assessment processes, evaluations, family interventions, psychoeducation, social stories and sensory tool kits.
Results By working in partnership, the service saw a 26% increase in referrals for neurodiverse clients in 2021, this continues to rise. Schools and healthcare professionals reported increasing ability to talk about death and dying and reported positive differences in behaviour and engagement. Parents and carers attending psychoeducation groups reported increased confidence with new strategies in coping with their children’s reactions to grief and loss.
Conclusion Promoting the service with multiple key partnerships has significantly increased pathways for referrals for neurodiverse clients. Collaborative working has elevated awareness, enabled service growth and led to new learnings for the CABS team and the wider network involved. We recognise that partnership working has reduced pressure on additional services and has led to a more inclusive provision of bereavement therapy for neurodiverse children and young people.
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