Island Hospice and Health Care (Island) was conceived in response to a need in the community for palliative and bereavement care services, and has provided a comprehensive bereavement counselling service for all ages since its inception in 1979. Besides providing ongoing support for families whose relatives died in hospice care, the bereavement service has offered individual, couples and family therapeutic sessions, a wide range of bereavement support groups for widows, family survivors of suicide and other traumatic deaths, adolescent support groups and an extensive programme of children’s groups.
Bereaved children’s groups were developed in 1992, offering a day long programme of activities, support and sharing for bereaved children from the ages of 5-20 years in tandem with family counselling and ongoing support. Minor adjustments, including regularity of group sessions affected by diminished human resources, have been integrated in response to changes and demands created by political and economic instability in the country, but the programme in essence remains valid and appropriate as bereavement support for children. The Young carers group also supports those bereaved children who have also, by force of circumstances, found themselves caring for a dying relative.
Partnerships have been developed since 1998 between Island and various orphan care systems, including established children’s homes and community groups where a high orphan population exists. A programme that integrates a direct service for children, training for community volunteers working with children and support for the carers has been successful. Professional support and supervision for primary and secondary carers is an integral part of this programme, acknowledging the stress of caring for often terminally ill children whilst they themselves are HIV+ and bereaved.
Dr Val Maasdorp, Clinical Director of Island Hospice and Healthcare says, “The pain and suffering that children who are bereaved go through is immense, and it is important that we provide bereavement services that will support them and enable them to work through their grief.”
Click here to find out more about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and to download the full report.