Kirkwood’s Bereavement Drop-in has evolved in recent years to its current successful model. Held every two weeks, on average 45 people attend. The Drop-in has been effective, in part due to its informal and relaxed feel. It is arranged in a ‘café’-like style which gives us the ability to split people into smaller groups to help people feel more at ease and less intimidated. Although the Drop-in may feel informal, each session is structured and is set around ‘themes’. An example might be ‘adjustment and change’, ‘Making sense of my grief’ etc.
Themes are discussed with a volunteer support worker or core staff member available to ‘steer’ the conversation. Peer support is very evident where members feel able to share personal stories – which are obviously encouraged. Halfway through the session, the group is split in order to offer a larger ‘structured therapy group’. This group is facilitated by a core team counsellor and a volunteer counsellor.
In an attempt to manage numbers and to encourage people who are newly bereaved we set up a ‘new to service’ group. This is specifically for people who are newly bereaved or have had a more recent bereavement. It was evident that these people are clearly at a different ‘stage’ of grieving and they felt intimidated by the large group – who were clearly ‘further on’ in their grieving process. We offer five sessions in this group as a ‘holding’ and ‘normalising’ support.
Feedback for the drop-in session has been positive, and has been an excellent way of engaging the local bereaved community. There is future scope to expand the drop-in event to address isolation and loneliness. Currently, the possibility of an outreach service is being scoped, in order to reach further areas in Kirklees which could possibly involve other members of the hospice multidisciplinary team such as social workers.
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