Bereavement care is part of the continuum of palliative care for patients and their families and is as important as the care before death occurs. While bereaved persons are mostly able to cope with their bereavement within their own support network, there is a population of bereaved persons who will benefit from professional help to aid their coping. It is important for them to receive the needed support in their grief journey.
Assisi Hospice strengthened our bereavement support through the specialised Bereavement Care Programme, reaching out to more family members of our late patients through individual counselling, art and music therapy and support groups when needed. In 2021, the Bereavement Care team reached out to over 505 bereaved families in the first month after their loss to assess their need for support, and 116 family members of our late patients received support from the Bereavement Care team.
From January to May this year, the team reached out to 315 bereaved families and supported 43 family members. In June, we resumed our bi-annual physical Interfaith Memorial Service (IFMS), which was a dedicated time for the bereaved to remember their loved ones together with their healthcare team, to cherish their lived life and to mourn for their departure. The service was held virtually in 2021 due to the pandemic.
Additionally, the Bereavement Care team also provided psychoeducational programmes for members of our interdisciplinary team. For example, our Home Care doctors and nurses learned about “Grief and Bereavement Work – Creating Self-awareness and Emotional Coping Capacity” through tutorial sessions, reflecting on the importance for clinicians to have good self-awareness on their emotional coping capacity for grief as they were expected to hold difficult conversations about death and dying, and attend to patients’ and their family members’ emotions. The Bereavement Support Group, consisting of spouses of late patients and facilitated by the Bereavement Care Team counsellors, would be formed in July this year. The objectives of the support group are to normalise the grief experience, increase self-awareness on grief reactions, reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety and distress, help the participants learn new ways of coping, increase feelings of hope and empowerment and develop new friendship and peer support within the group.