Dr Dianne Ball and Ray Wells
Care after death requires broad expertise and collaboration to understand and manage the complexities of each death accurately, appropriately and in a timely manner. With ever-so growing constraints on our health systems, it is also an area most likely to be under-resourced. Within health care settings where the loss of a patient affects many different people, it becomes crucial that the needs of the deceased patient, staff, hospital and external agencies are well understood and met.
Bereavement Care Service (BCS) was established in 1995 and contracted to Middlemore Hospital in response to a need to provide specialized, coordinated and culturally appropriate support to grieving families. BCS is a 24/7 onsite service attending every death including second-trimester miscarriages, stillbirth and neonatal deaths. Its specialized and empathetic team provide expertise, understanding, and facilitation throughout all the necessary processes, from the pre-death interface with families until the transfer of the deceased from the facility. It ensures all requirements pertaining to death are met in a compassionate, culturally appropriate, and timely manner. Accurate information enables efficient transfers of the deceased, and for families to continue with their farewell journey.
A range of outcomes are hypothesized- timely accurate information with appropriate cultural support provide greater family satisfaction and reduced risk of complicated grief. There is also benefit to staff, facility and external agencies while preserving dignity of the deceased.
Care in hospital does not have to stop at death even in the face of adversities. It is often the constraints we operate within that open channels of creativity and innovative models of service delivery. BCS is one such model that can easily be set up in most health care facilities. It is a collaborative, centralized and integrated end to end solution that also meets the cultural/spiritual needs of the deceased patients and their families.