Background Since 2015 referrals to the children and young persons’ counselling service at Marie Curie Hospice West Midlands have increased by 136%. The complexities of the cases between 2017–2018 have also doubled, which we have found has been primarily due to an increase in mental health concerns with children.
At the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Young Persons’ conference 2018 it was reported that 15% of young peoples’ psychological disorders derive from unresolved grief. Current models of best practice suggest that we need to provide a service that supports the young person, their parents and the community in helping children work through their grief and life experiences in a way that is flexible and creative.
Aim The aim of the evaluation was to ascertain what the profile of children’s counselling services within the hospice is and what role the children’s bereavement service has in supporting children with mental health conditions work through their grief.
Methods We completed the evaluation by reviewing clinical documents and comparing them to policy.
Results We found that a common misconception was that the children’s bereavement service offers time-limited, programmed counselling appointments for children to address their grief. We established that there was also a service gap for children with mental health conditions who are experiencing loss and grief. The current systems are not meeting their needs in a timely manner. Finally, there is an identified increasing need for children with complex needs to access specialist grief counselling.
Recommendations We recommended expanding the children’s bereavement service by training volunteers and employing another part time counsellor. This will enable the team to deliver training in schools and work more closely with community services in supporting children during their grieving process.