Health and social care professionals should be able to build up appropriate relationships with patients, providing care that is based on compassion and empathy, without this care being limited by taboos surrounding the discussion of death, dying and bereavement.
Staff and volunteers should therefore be supported and empowered to initiate and engage in open and sensitive conversations with people around death, dying and loss and around palliative and end of life care.
Health and social care professionals and volunteers should have the time and space to come to terms with the deaths of patients. They should have opportunities to reflect and explore issues relating to their own mortality and the mortality of others, building up an awareness of themselves not just as a professional, but as a person who will be affected by death, dying and bereavement.
Much of this will involve a change in culture within health and social care organisations, so that staff and volunteers have the expectation that they will have organisational support and support from colleagues in coming to terms with these issues.
Healthcare should be “compassionate” and each family given individual attention and treated with sensitivity and empathy.
Appropriate education and training, including bereavement support training, should be available to all those who are likely to come into contact with patients, including volunteers, since all staff groups have an important role to play in the experience of patients.
Adequate bereavement services and follow-up services should be available, for staff and volunteers as well as for patients and carers.