Article Text

Download PDFPDF

P-02 Can specialist hospice bereavement care be for every family?
  1. Sarah Hodkinson1,2 and
  2. Lisa Dennis1
  1. 1Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, Hampton, UK
  2. 2University of Southampton, Southampton, UK


Background Since the first children’s hospice opened 41 years ago, 52 more children’s hospices have come into existence, aiming to ensure that children with life-limiting illness and their families can access care that is truly holistic, expert and seamlessly provided by a specialist multi-disciplinary team (Together for Short Lives, 2023). However, of the 3000 infants and children who die in England and Wales, 30% are infants and children who die suddenly and unexpectedly, not presenting with a life-limiting condition (Office for National Statistics. Child and infant mortality in England and Wales: 2020). By the nature of their death, these families are unlikely to benefit from the expert bereavement care children’s hospices provide. Bereavement outcomes are poor and mental illness rates are high (Dyregrov & Dyregrov. Death Stud. 1999, 23:635–661; Song, Mailick, Greenberg et al. Soc Sci Med. 2019, 239:112522; Prior, Fenger-Grøn, Davydow, et al. Psychol Med. 2018, 48:1437–1443; Stroebe, Schut, Stroebe. Lancet. 2007,8:1960–73). It is arguable that children’s hospices are unintentionally contributing to a health inequality for bereaved families, who have likely experienced a tragic and shocking death of their child.

Aim Determine if a children’s hospice is (or could be) adequately equipped to provide care for all families experiencing the death of a child.

Methods Literature review; mapping and gap analysis of local and national provision; exploratory scoping and interviews with services who have experience of traumatic grief; training needs analysis of hospice teams involved in bereavement care; assessment of team’s resilience and burn-out (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale; Brief Resilience Scale; Oldenburg burnout inventory); modelling.

Conclusion Children’s hospice professionals have invaluable understanding of the needs of families living with grief; their services support families with mental health and bereavement outcomes. A careful, evidenced, and pragmatic approach to service development allows identification of readiness and necessary competence required to broaden remit to meet the specialist need of a new/different population. Thus, stark inequalities in access to bereavement care have been addressed for families experiencing sudden and unexpected death. Further research will follow to measure impact on bereavement outcomes.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.