Hospice expands much-needed bereavement support

Categories: Care and Community Engagement.

St Clare Hospice in Essex has expanded its bereavement support to meet the needs of local people facing the loss of a loved one.

The hospice has developed four new Bereavement Cafés in partnership with Harlow’s Rainbow Services and Epping District Council. These will run throughout West Essex in addition to the two events already running.

St Clare Hospice recently ran a survey amongst local people asking them for their thoughts on bereavement support in the area. Almost 100 local people (93) completed the survey; 69 per cent of these said they’d like to see the hospice develop more bereavement support groups in the local area and 57 per cent agreed that more social groups for bereaved locals would be beneficial.

Sally Muylders, Community Engagement Manager at St Clare Hospice commented:

“When we looked at the results of our survey, we realised that the need for social bereavement support was greater than we’d thought. Developing the Bereavement Cafés for local people seemed to be the best option to support people in our area.

“When we asked local people what support they’d recommend to a grieving friend or family member, we were astounded that 24 per cent were unable to answer – with many simply admitting they’d refer to a GP. However, when asked what they knew to have helped a relative through grief, 77 per cent said support from friends, family and neighbours was most helpful – whilst 38 per cent said social groups or activities.

“This indicated to us that not only do we need more bereavement support in West Essex, there is a serious lack of information and communication around how people can access help when they have lost a loved one.

“Social isolation is fast becoming one of the nation’s most critical concerns in the UK, with bereavement at the top of the list for key risk factors. With ‘social prescribing’ finally on the rise throughout Europe and in the NHS, it’s clear that community support and social wellbeing go hand in hand – and, here at St Clare, we know that is especially true when it comes to bereavement.”

The hospice’s new Bereavement Café project falls in line with their strategy for the next few years – to reach more local people facing death, dying and loss and connect local communities together so they can support each other. These community-led, social support events aim to connect local people who have experienced the death of someone close to them.

Michele Tavarone, a Social Worker within St Clare’s Patient & Family Support team, explained:

“Our Bereavement Café events are very relaxed and informal – with tea, coffee and cake, just like a real café! Sometimes, talking or listening to other people who have shared experiences similar to our own can offer us comfort – even if just a little.

“The Bereavement Café offers people an opportunity and a safe place to meet others who understand what they may be going through. There is no right or wrong way to experience grief, but sometimes, it can be good to simply chat and hear other people’s stories.”

For more information visit St Clare Hospice