Enthusiastic response to online course on supporting grieving children in the time of COVID-19

Categories: Education.

The latest Patch Academy course on supporting grieving children who have lost a loved one due to the corona virus has been enthusiastically received. The course was created by PatchSA, the national Children’s Palliative Care network, in response to the present COVID-19 pandemic that has left many thousands of bereaved children in its wake.

South Africa remains in the midst of dealing with the catastrophic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic while facing the very real possibility of a third wave and of new and stronger viral mutations. With already over 55,000 deaths of mostly adults, many thousands of children and grandchildren have been left grieving in the wake of this crisis.

In a country that is still struggling to control the epidemics of TB an HIV resulting in many thousands of children losing parents, we are now faced with a pandemic where a large percentage of deaths occur amongst people over 65 years of age. This means that children are now also losing grandparents who, in many cases, have been primary caregivers.

Those who study childhood development are acutely aware of the often traumatising and harmful effects on babies, children and adolescents when they lose a parent or a primary caregiver. If not provided with adequate emotional support, this damage can manifest throughout their lives in poor school performance, unhealthy relationship choices, and unstable mental health.

However, when children receive the nurturing care of confident and reassuring adults from within their family, close friends and communities, they can be helped to cope with their loss and learn to be resilient.

The latest self-study certificate course to be launched on the Patch Academy online learning platform, Supporting Grieving Children in the Time of COVID-19, provides both theoretical and practical advice and information on how to deliver appropriate support to grieving children. As an introductory offer, the course is presently offered free of charge. It has appropriate content for anyone concerned about or interacting with children and adolescents affected by the death of a loved one, particularly as a result of COVID, and who would like to be better equipped to support and help them to develop resilience through loss. The course is highly relevant for parents, teachers, health care providers, caregivers, counsellors, and spiritual leaders.

The course has been endorsed by Dr Welly Hollander, Medical Social Worker and Narrative Therapist who writes: “I would recommend this informative and relevant course to family members, grieving communities and bereavement counsellors. The course describes the realities of children and teens who grieve and a loved on during COVVOD-19. The information nis comprehensive, practical, and needed in a time that many of our children experience losses to their lives.”

Tracy Rawlins, PatchSA Training Manager and lead creator of the course said this week, “It is clear that this course has ‘touched a nerve’ and spoken to a very real and present need in our country. We at PatchSA have been overwhelmed by the number of people registering to take the course every day. Within just three weeks of its launch we’ve had over one hundred people register for the course, including several teachers. We hope that adults completing the course will feel better equipped to help bereaved children find ways to safely hold and honour their memories and their grief while building strength and resilience.”

Positive reviews received from those who have completed the course include the following:

“I liked that it was interactive, the quizzes helped me to see how well I am learning and to go back and re-read. I especially like the videos and links; it adds so much substance to the course.” Renesha Bhikraj

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, even though it is on an extremely difficult topic. I think it was well handled and I really enjoyed the extra readings given.” Deborah King (Teacher)

“I believe that it needs to become a compulsory course for all teachers in South Africa to attend as we have become the closest form of support for families and children who are grieving.” Minda Franzsen (Teacher)

To find out more about this and other courses on children’s palliative care and to register please visit the Patch Academy website at www.academy.patchsa.org

-Submitted by Sue Boucher, PatchSA

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