which healthcare staff should be aware and on which planning of care should be based1.
As bereaved people experience their grief following a death, they
frequently report in some detail their memory and perception of the words and actions of the staff who were present at that time. Staff will be able to facilitate the initial acceptance of the death through their attitude both
to the deceased and to those who have been bereaved.
Bereavement can raise a wide range of practical, social, emotional
and spiritual needs. Some people will have clinical questions about the circumstances leading up to the death. Some people will need information about practical matters, and the process of grief. Some will demonstrate emotional or spiritual distress and will require empathic care from staff. A number of healthcare providers have introduced follow up processes in which the opportunity for such discussions with clinicians is pro-actively offered and this is reported to lead to a marked drop in the number of
complaints received around end of life issues.
In the longer term, a variety of needs may become apparent: some
will benefit from peer-support, especially those who are particularly isolated or lacking in social support; some may require the opportunity to explore the emotional or practical implications of their loss: and a smaller
number will need more specialist therapeutic intervention.
Guidance: 8. Every
health board should adopt basic principles for the ongoing
care of people who have been bereaved. These should recognise the need
for dignity, recognition
sensitivity and discretion of the vulnerability of
in the handling of bereaved people.
the death Respect
incorporated in a Bereavement Care Policy.
1 In particular see: Kubler-Ross (1969), Five stages of grief; Worden (2003), Four tasks of mourning; Stroebe and Schut (1999), The dual process model.
Shaping Bereavement Care 28