In order to cope with demand, St Richard’s Family Support Team is now integrating some support groups which help those who are grieving after a sudden death, as well as the families of hospice patients.
The move has come about as a result of St Richard’s Hospice being chosen to run the new Bereavement Support South Worcestershire (BSSW) service two years ago, set up to help anyone in the area who was bereaved by a sudden death.
Commissioned by the South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWCCG), St Richard’s was chosen to run the service due to its skill and expertise in this area.
St Richard’s Hospice now runs the Dragonfly Group for children and young people who have been bereaved and their parent or carer. They benefit from professional support as well as from each other in six fortnightly sessions.
The next Dragonfly group plans to support ten families with 15 children aged between five and 14 years old. This includes families who are connected to St Richard’s Hospice patients and those referred through BSSW following a sudden death.
The group is run by four staff from St Richard’s Hospice and BSSW plus two specially trained family support volunteers.
‘A brave move’
Sarah Popplestone-Helm, Head of the Family Support Service explained: “As more and more people wanted help from BSSW after a sudden death and our own St Richard’s Hospice families, numbers were increasing we knew we needed to change the way we worked.
“We were struggling to offer support to all those that needed help from BSSW at what is an incredibly difficult time for many people. We decided the way forward was to expand our group work to include more of the bereaved people who were referred.”
The high number of referrals from both services has also led to the creation of an extra ‘Steps’ group which is a social drop in session for bereaved adults and a second therapeutic bereavement group.
Sarah added: “These changes were a brave move which is working well so far and allowing us to support far more people. We constantly review our work and if someone would benefit more from individual support moving forward with their grief then we can arrange the appropriate sessions.
“Research and our own experience has shown that talking to others in a similar situation really helps. They understand how it feels to be bereaved and very often continue to support each other after our group sessions have finished.”