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P-5  Extending bereavement support for children and families to include support for those experiencing sudden and unexpected death
  1. Sarah Popplestone-Helm and
  2. Sarah Wardell
  1. St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester, UK


The local adult hospice has experience of supporting children and young people experiencing the life- threatening illness and subsequent death of a loved one.

Clear potential for partnership working was identified following the receipt of funding from the local Clinical Commissioning Group. Funding was allocated to develop a bereavement service for individuals bereaved by sudden and unexpected death. Through this, a bereavement group for children supported by the hospice and the local bereavement service was developed.

Children’s workers from both services pooled experience and knowledge to provide eight sessions for bereaved children, young people and their parent/carer. Clients attending the group were extremely supportive of each other and some have gone on to have one-to-one support, visited by a member of the team within school or at home so that they can continue the exploration of their loss that the group initiated.

The hospice team had not worked with clients bereaved by sudden and unexpected death before, and they were challenged to build on their existing skills. Education and support for the team was crucial. De-briefs followed each group meeting enabling facilitators to explore how the session had impacted on them. Supervision was also provided on a regular basis.

The group did not cater for children and young people bereaved by suicide. It was felt that the loss was so different that it might not be constructive for the clients. However, following the success of an adult group which focussed on loss by suicide, the staff are feeling an increase in skill, knowledge and confidence. Therefore in response to the high number of referrals for children, a group is planned for September 2016.

Partnership working has been a positive experience enabling both services to develop their portfolio of services within the local community.

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