Background NICE standards require that ‘people closely affected by a death are communicated with in a sensitive way and are offered immediate and ongoing bereavement, emotional and spiritual support appropriate to their needs and preferences’ (NICE, 2011). Consequently, significant attention is being paid to the nature and type of bereavement support and services offered within and across organisations and communities.
Bereavement is not, in itself, an illness and the majority of people affected will experience ‘normal’/‘uncomplicated’ bereavement (Shear, Simon, Wall, et al., 2011; Mancini, Bonanno & Sinan, 2014). Most of those who are bereaved (circa 60%) deal with their grief with the support of family and friends and a further 30% may need additional support (e.g. peer support/volunteer led groups). Only 10% are at risk of a more complicated grief reaction and may need referral to mental health professionals (op. cit.).
The Bereavement Care Service Standards (Bereavement Services Association & Cruse Bereavement Care, 2013) include the need for providers to ‘address the needs of the client group/community they serve in the most appropriate way’ and ‘to ensure that those delivering support… have the skills, knowledge, training, supervision and support relevant to their role’.
Aim To ensure appropriate community-based support for those recently bereaved, a large care provider in the West Midlands has established a team of Bereavement Visitors. The 20-strong team offer emotional support, provide information, education and coping strategies to bereaved relatives either on site/in the community. They also run individual and group therapy sessions to support those adjusting to the loss of a loved one.
Results Last year 241 people used the service, citing a range of benefits. In June 2018 the scheme was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This poster explores the drivers for the programme, discusses how volunteers are recruited, trained and supported and considers the impact and outcomes of the programme from a range of perspectives.