Funding vital bereavement support for NHS staff

On 18th October 2021
Categories: 2021

Donations have funded the expansion of a hospital bereavement service to meet the need for additional support during the pandemic.

NHS staff are among those mourning the loss of loved ones during the pandemic. And for many, their personal grief has been made all the more complex due to isolation from family and friends while working in high pressure environments in the face of Covid-19.

Many will require additional support for their grief. That is why we’re proud to award funding to support King’s College Hospital Charity’s Bereavement Service. The service offers free telephone and face-to-face support for the relatives, partners and friends of any patient who died at the Trust’s hospitals during Covid-19.

With a grant from NHS Charities Together, made possible thanks to generous donations, the service has extended its support to King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust staff so they can also receive the help they need.

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of King’s College Hospital Charity, said:

“We are extremely grateful for the grant we received from NHS Charities Together. It has made it possible for us to extend our Bereavement Service to our NHS colleagues, which has been incredibly important at this challenging time. We feel immensely proud to have been able to create an impactful service to support individuals who have lost loved ones during the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who donated, your support helps to make a big difference.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, David Glover, Head of Social Work at King’s College Hospital Charity, and the Palliative Care Team at King’s College Hospital were forced to reconsider their model of bereavement support. 

There was much concern about the vulnerabilities facing friends and families at a time when the global pandemic changed the way we experience grief and loss. Zoom funerals, delayed burials and virtual goodbyes replaced hugs, wakes, and held hands.

David said:

“Around 10 per cent of those affected by grief require additional support. 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.”

Delivered in partnership with St Christopher’s Hospice, the bereavement service is part of a programme of support created by King’s College Hospital Charity to help patients, their families, and staff of King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Support is tailored to each individual’s needs, with therapeutic counselling, group and social programmes available.

Speaking of the impact of bereavement, one user of the confidential service said:

“When I first lost my partner I was in a really bad way and very much lost my way in life. I really can’t express the difference the counselling made to my life. I went from completely isolating myself, to actually beginning to live again. This is a lifechanging service that supports people every step of the way through the grieving process.”

Support our work

With the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS workforce, the threat of a third wave, and services that are busier than ever, NHS Charities Together needs to continue to be there for the NHS and wider communities, which is why we need your support to continue funding this vital work.

We have so far allocated £125 million in a range of projects supporting staff, patients and volunteers.

Working with a network of 240 NHS member charities covering the UK, grants have been awarded for projects that include counselling services and helplines to support the mental health of staff, bereavement support for families who have lost loved ones, long-Covid research, funding thousands of emergency volunteers and support in the community. Funding has also supported staff with practical needs like food, drink and a place to rest, enabling staff to continue with their vital life-saving work.

Together, we can continue making an impact where it’s needed most.

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