The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact upon the work of the palliative care team at King’s, who quickly identified that the number of people requiring additional bereavement support was rising, and that the hospital’s existing services were not equipped to deal with the volume or gravity of the demand.
The extraordinary circumstances in which people lost loved ones during the pandemic magnified their feelings of grief and the challenges of being bereaved. Not being able to visit their loved one in hospital, be at their bedside when they died or say goodbye in person was entirely contrary to the typical experience in non-pandemic times.
This, combined with the potential social isolation and lack of support networks, as well as curtailed funeral arrangements, meant that the outlets for grief were minimal, making it hard for loved ones to process their loss.
"Around 10% of those affected by grief require additional support" says David Glover, Head of Social Work at King's College Hospital. "This could be due to issues such as social isolation, a difficult or dependent relationship with the deceased, or a very unexpected death.
"The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact upon the work of our team and during this time, the number of people requiring additional bereavement support became much higher."
King's College Hospital Charity's Bereavement Service was created in response to COVID-19 and the traumatic circumstances in which many lost loved ones.
The service provides additional bereavement support for the families, friends and partners of those who died at King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust during the pandemic. The service appointed Family Liaison Officers to reach out to the next of kin to provide practical and emotional support, and to refer them to therapeutic bereavement counselling. This was outsourced to a specialised local provider of bereavement services, St Christopher’s Hospice, who are experts in helping those experiencing bereavement to process complex grief.
The Bereavement Service was funded by the Charity through the Hospital Heroes Appeal, including grants received from NHS Charities Together. These generous donations have enabled a tailored counselling service, focused on meeting each individual’s needs.
The service is completely free and available to adults and children and more than one family member can benefit. To read more about our Bereavement service, please ring our confidential helpline on 020 8768 4599 or email email@example.com