Pre and post bereavement support: Exploring barriers to universal approach to end of life care

Download (PDF 904KB)

Summary of report content

Healthwatch Staffordshire undertook a project to look into End of Life Care (EoLC) during 2016-17. This was identified as a priority area of focus following a public consultation and was also informed by local intelligence which indicated there were discrepancies in the way EoLC was provided across the County and West Midlands region. The purpose of the project was to explore the barriers to a consistent, holistic approach to EoLC across Staffordshire, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Three primary areas to research were identified: Advance Care Planning (ACP), Workforce Development and Pre and Post Bereavement Support. This report focuses on Pre and Post Bereavement Support. The research involved interviews and focus groups conducted with staff members and service users in hospices across Walsall, Wolverhampton and Staffordshire. The participating hospices in this data collection were Compton Hospice, Donna Louise Trust, Acorns Children’s Hospice and St Giles Hospice. The research also included extensive literature review. The aim of the research was to answer the following questions: 1) What is pre and post bereavement support? 2) How is pre and post bereavement support delivered nationally and locally? 3) What are the different types of bereavement support available currently? 4) How does bereavement support fit in (if at all) with Advance Care Planning (ACP)? 5) What are the barriers to bereavement support being incorporated into a consistent approach to EoLC? The key findings of the report are as follows: - Bereavement support has proven to be valuable to those suffering with grief. - Locally in Staffordshire, Walsall and Wolverhampton, service user and hospice staff who work in bereavement support agree that the services are able to deliver good care though they question whether this is the case nationally. - It’s difficult for people to access bereavement support outside of hospices e.g. pre-bereavement support is only available through hospices. Therefore people who do not go through hospices for their EoLC are isolated and commissioners should identify ways to ensure bereavement support reaches these people. - The option of receiving bereavement support should be offered as part of a patient’s EoLC plan regardless of where they choose to receive their care. - For service users, the barriers to consistently incorporating bereavement support into EoLC include: insufficient tailoring of support, support being received too late, services not coming to the patient/families, lack of awareness of types of support available. - For staff, the barriers to consistently incorporating bereavement support into EoLC include: reliance on volunteer counsellors (trained professionals but not paid), late referrals, difficulty in providing services outside of hospices, social barriers around discussing death and grief, lack of funding. The report makes three recommendations: 1) Bereavement support should be included in Advance Care Planning. 2) Members of the public should be included in bereavement support – this could be through drop in sessions, tying in charities and private counsellors to district nurses/hospitals for referrals/self-referrals. 3) The skills of bereavement counsellors and the value of the service they provide should be recognised. Funding should be diverted from NHS provision to the VCS sector that can provide this support more cost-effectively, whilst giving greater recognition and value to the role.

Would you like to look at:

General details

Report title 
Pre and post bereavement support: Exploring barriers to universal approach to end of life care
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Staffordshire
Date of publication 
Sunday, 20 August, 2017
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Devolution of services
Holistic support
Information providing
Public involvement
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Staff levels
Staff training
Other information of note about this report 
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
Enagaging Communities Staffordshire (ECS)
Primary research method used 
Focus group
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Counselling/improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT)
End of life care
Social care services 
Hospice services
Hospice services at home
Community services 
Community based services for people with mental health needs
Community healthcare and nursing services

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not known
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Not applicable
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.