Helping children with bereavement

editorial image

A charity founded by a Kirk minister which has already helped more than 3,000 young people come to terms with their grief has launched a new service in Glasgow.

It comes as the NHS in Scotland is educating healthcare staff how to better relate to children as they face dealing with death.

The Richmond’s Hope charity was founded by the Rev Liz Henderson 14 years ago after she realised 15 funerals in her Craigmillar community over the course of one year had left 36 children without a parent or sibling. Discovering there was little help available for young people coming to terms with their grief, she set up Richmond’s Hope. Since then the independent charity, has helped more than 3,000 children through bereavement.

Liz said: “We set up our new service in Glasgow after we were approached by the Scottish Government, which was impressed by the success we have had in Edinburgh. We want to make sure children across the city can access our support at this difficult time in their lives.

“We are seeing increasing numbers of children and young people struggling to come to terms with grief. For them, the death or a friend or relative can be very hard to understand. It’s incredible that one in 29 children in the UK has lost a parent or sibling. That means that in most schools, there is likely to be at least one child in each class who could need support.”

Doctors, nurses and other care specialists now have innovative new resources,to help them deal with death and bereavement, thanks to NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

Launched this summer, a series of animations, a new website, information posters and links to a host of other resources were developed by NES.

The resources include animations supporting staff to discuss dying, talking to children who are bereaved and understanding the processes following a sudden or unexplained death.

Dr Clare Tucker who has been leading the development of the resources, said: “Support around expected and sudden deaths by healthcare professionals is an important part of improving bereavement care in Scotland.

“Caring for the dying, supporting families dealing with anticipatory grief around the time of death and in bereavement is core business for medical teams. But healthcare staff need support and advice as well in order to deliver the best care possible for those going through some of the worst moments in their lives.”

Caroline Lamb, chief executive of NHS Education for Scotland, added: “While some specialists may deal with death and bereavement almost on a daily basis, many professionals will encounter bereavement situations very rarely in their careers, particularly unexpected deaths.

“This can lead to anxiety and stress, not being able to find the right words to say or even knowing where to turn to for support. These bite sized animations and additional support will reduce the fear of the unknown and lead to greater and better support for Scotland’s NHS workforce and those they are caring for.”