Background National and local research studies highlight the negative impact of social isolation, especially in remote areas of high economic and social deprivation (Marmot, 2010). Vulnerable groups e.g. the terminally ill, carers and the bereaved cannot always access mainstream support networks (Steptoe et al., 2013) and can benefit more from accessible, culturally appropriate and varied support supplied within resourceful bereavement hubs in their local community (Social isolation: annual report of the Director Of Public Health For Wirral, 2012–2013).
Aims To develop multi-disciplinary bereavement hubs within isolated communities that provide tailor-made palliative care for pre/post bereavement. This support will embrace cultural diversity, encouraging self-sustaining provision, empowerment and resilience for terminally ill patients and their carers, friends and family, particularly focussing on the more vulnerable in society e.g. young carers. The project aims to lessen social isolation, increase social capital, and address the public health Five Ways To Wellbeing module.
Methods Review literature. Research local/national need. Feedback analysis. Internal consultation. Consultation with relevant local organisations. Funding applications. Secure premises. Recruit and train specialist hub volunteers to provide practical, spiritual and social support. Liaise with other agencies to collaborate. Assessment and personal goal planning. Continuous service review and evaluation, SystmOne reports of service, Core outcomes and individual evaluation questionnaires.
Results Increased coping skills, wellbeing and mental health measured by Core 34 psychological assessment. Greater social activity and increased peer support verified by group activity registers and regular evaluation. Increased referrals and access to service for isolated young carers. Improved multi-agency working. 36 volunteers trained to offer model of support. Increased education regarding self-care achieved by personal goal planning.
Conclusion Evaluation of the pilot hub showed substantial increase in social activity, peer support, resilience and access to local provision aided by increased multi-agency working. It is beneficial for service users and cost–effective for hospice provision. Also, we saw additional coping strategies and autonomy within families, resulting in an improvement in wellbeing.
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