Help for grieving families

Jackie Brunton

DEATH and grief are difficult experiences, but when they take place under the challenging circumstances of a Coronavirus pandemic the increased trauma can seem debilitating.

Team across the End-of-Life and Palliative care teams across Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Trinity Hospice want to ensure that all those struggling with loss get the support they need.

Lead Nurse Cancer and End of Life nurse at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, Jackie Brunton, led the SWAN end-of-life care initiative at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, which included setting up a bereavement support service in response to the COVID pandemic. This service has now become permanent at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Jackie and the team have been working with Trinity Hospice, The Linden Centre and the Chaplaincy Department to offer support to anyone suffering grief to help them cope with bereavement.

She said: “With tough restrictions imposed on visitors in hospitals and care homes, it has not been possible for families and friends to care for their loved ones in the way they would have chosen during normal times. While we understand why these restrictions have been necessary, those who have experienced loss may find it difficult to move on with their grief as a consequence.”

And because of this, Jackie wants grieving families to know that she and the teams across the hospital and Trinity Hospice are still available to help people as they come to terms with what has happened to their loved-ones.

“We’re here to be the ‘someone’ who is available to sit with them and listen to their story and to advise on the services and the support that is available to them”  Jackie added. “We’re thinking of you and we’re still here for you.

“During the height of the pandemic many people were focused on the restrictions imposed to keep everyone safe,” Jackie explained.

“But as we emerge from lockdown, it’s only natural that the reality of bereavement will start to hit and people will find themselves revisiting what’s happened.

“We want people to know that we are still here and help is available. We want families and loved ones to get back in contact if they are struggling.”

Announcing that the bereavement “Swan Suite” at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is now permanent, Jackie added: “It is normal for families and friends to have questions around their loved one’s death. It’s such a huge life-event to take in and process normally. The conditions imposed by COVID-19 have only made things worse. It’s really important for mental health and well-being that those who are struggling feel able to talk to people who care.

“As a hospital, there may also be lessons we can learn from their experiences and that of their loved ones, which we will use to continue to improve the services we offer to other people in the future,” Jackie added.

“We also want to hear from other partners and organisations that are also providing any support across the Fylde coast so we can ensure we signpost people to appropriate services.”

Jackie continued: “We have been overwhelmed by the public and community support over the last few months.  The Wrea Green Remembrance Wood has recently been donated by Andy Bradshaw and his family as they wanted to ensure that trees could be planted in memory of those who have died and create a wood that lasts ‘for generations’ as a place people can remember their loved ones.

“The family have also placed a slate memorial to remember key workers who died from coronavirus.  Our hospital and Trinity team recently visited the wood and can see what a wonderful place the family have created.’’

Posted in Compassion, Excellence, Home Page, People Centred, Positive.