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P-247 Innovation in bereavement care – evaluating the impact of the hospice online support group
  1. Lynsey Lawson
  1. St Mary’s Hospice, Cumbria, UK


Background One of the many things that have changed in the digital age is the way we grieve. While the bereaved have traditionally visited graves or burial sites to talk to deceased loved ones, some are now turning to digital spaces to continue their bonds with the dead. Grieving is once again becoming a community practice with online groups offering support and validation for mourners. As a hospice we recognise the emerging need for online support and as a result we have created our online support group.

Aims Our online support group aims to create:

  • A chance for people to share their grief with other bereaved members without feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable;

  • A safe place to post poetry, photographs, journals or articles about their loved one who has died;

  • A chance for people to feel less lonely in their grief;

  • A place to learn coping skills and the importance of self–care.

Method A secure online support group was created in August 2017. Details of the group were shared at initial assessments as well as on the hospice website and on social media in a hope to reach out to the harder to reach groups. The group is supported by trained bereavement volunteers at set times throughout the week.

Results The online support group has been established for 22 months and currently has 82 members ageing from early twenties to late eighties. A further development is that the group now meet monthly at the hospice for a coffee evening. Satisfaction surveys have been completed with the group with one member reporting, ‘The group just works for me. We are all in the same boat and support one another, especially as weekends which I find extremely difficult at times’.

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