Following a comprehensive review of the hospice's bereavement service, a subsequent literature review and informal discussions with other children's hospices to determine the wider use of assessment tools in bereavement, the Bereavement Support Team at Naomi House Children’s Hospice identified the need to introduce an assessment framework that would enable them to identify those families that are at greater risk as they experience ongoing losses over time as their child's health deteriorates.
An appropriate assessment tool was identified (Machin, 2006) and adapted by the project team in collaboration with the author and 40 assessments were carried out in partnership with parents over a period of approximately 18 months. During this period, the project team engaged in action learning to develop a deeper understanding of resilience, vulnerability and support.
The project has given the Bereavement Support Team greater understanding about the experiences of loss and grief for families pre-bereavement and is having a significant influence in practice by enabling the team to provide appropriate support and interventions. The families themselves have reported a sense of being understood and have welcomed the opportunity to tell their stories.
The findings from this work and continued support for families within the context of pre bereavement assessment provides exciting opportunities to engage in ongoing wider studies.There is also an emerging interest more widely from other professionals working in the field of children’s palliative care.
This project was supported by the FoNS Small Project Programme in partnership with Antigone (Martha Lane Fox's Foundation).