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

Audrey Agnew, R. Manktelow, T. Haynes, L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


The management and delivery of bereavement support services in palliative care settings presents practical and ethical challenges. A national survey, conducted in 2007, examined bereavement practice in ten Marie Curie hospices across the United Kingdom. This qualitative study 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. Multi-disciplinary 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 10 hospices. The findings have informed the development of a post-bereavement service model which has been subsequently implemented across Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-130
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date24 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


Dive into the research topics of 'Bereavement Assessment Practice in Hospice Settings: Challenges for Palliative Care Social Workers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this