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O-23  Workplace support – a bereavement toolkit
  1. Karen Norman1,
  2. Laura Kelly1 and
  3. Elissa Dennis2
  1. 1St Catherine’s Hospice, Crawley, UK
  2. 2Unum Ltd


For Dying Matters Awareness week in 2015, the hospice held a workshop for employers across the local area. Attended by a range of large and small employers, it was clear that there were significant differences in the way they manage terminal illness and bereavement as it presents in the workplace.

Recognising a need to equip managers to handle difficult conversations and offer support, we partnered with an employee benefits company to address the need. Keen to reach out to all UK employers with whom they provide solutions, they agreed to jointly develop an online resource aimed specifically at all UK line managers.

The interactive toolkit covers topics including;

  • What is bereavement?

  • Working through bereavement

  • Bereavement in the workplace

  • Supporting a bereaved colleague

  • Support if a colleague dies.

The toolkit offers information on the effects of grief and bereavement and the impact this may have on employees’ work. It also provides advice on understanding challenges a bereaved colleague will face and dealing with practicalities. With accessible and clear guidance for each topic, the toolkit is designed to help line managers feel in control when managing death and bereavement in their teams.

Both organisations have actively championed the use of the tool via television, radio, newspapers and magazines and have had articles printed and online coverage. Social media has been very active and it is clear that the tool has been a great success.

With around 20% of our patients being of working age, the importance and impact of the workplace to our work needs to be recognised and we are currently in discussion with the Compassionate Employers Programme about furthering this initiative. Meanwhile, many business leaders have been contacting us via the website, so the potential for this toolkit and the partnership working is exciting.

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