Bereavement Assessment Practice in Hospice Settings: Challenges for Palliative Care Social Workers

Audrey Agnew, Roger Manktelow, Tommy Haynes, Louise Jones

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    The management and delivery of bereavement support services in palliative care settings present practical and ethical challenges. A national survey, conducted in 2007, examined bereavement practice in ten Marie Curie hospices across the UK. This qualitativestudy was undertaken using semi-structured telephone interviews with Bereavement Service Leaders located in each hospice. Although findings revealed that bereavement services were in operation and had been reviewed in response to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Guidance (2004) and all bereaved families were offered support, there was no standardisation of service delivery across sites. Multidisciplinary team meetings facilitated shared decision making for bereavement follow-up and expanded and clarified documentation completed by nursing staff around the time of the patient’s death. However, there was ambiguity regarding professional ‘duty of care’ and agency responses to bereaved individuals who were suicidal. Questions were raised around clinical effectiveness, reliability and professional accountability. The study highlighted ethical issues centred on documentation, user participation and consent, and found staff training was variable across the ten hospices. The findings have informed the development of a post-bereavement service model that has been subsequently implemented.across Marie Curie Cancer Care.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)111-130
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Mar 2011


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