End of Life includes how well we look after our grieving families/ carers after a relative’s death. This is one of the priorities at Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHSFT.
A new Bereavement Service Manager was appointed 18 months ago.
Marsha and her team looked to improve the care for clinicians and relatives; May 2016 saw 52% of death certificates completed correctly; July 2017 sees this increase to 82% of death certificates completed correctly.
The first change introduced, was the new Death Administration Policy which tackles timings of when a death certificate has to be completed. This is available on the trusts intranet site. As a result, consultants are sent a weekly report if a member of their team has failed to complete a death certificate in a timely manner. The Bereavement Services Manager says this has been instrumental; consultants are starting to ask prior to ward rounds have the death certificates been completed. Nowadays, these are mostly completed in the bereavement office as opposed to on the clinical area, reducing stress and distractions.
The opening hours have been changed to allow clinician’s easier access prior to clinical shifts. During this time, clinicians are offered refreshments helping them to relax and complete the death certification with less error. When errors do occur, the bereavement team are there to hand to nurture and offer support.
Doctors have reported “this new process is much easier as we are off the working environment and have the support to complete the documentation correctly.”
Next step was amending the bereavement booklet, detailing what to do next with important phone numbers. One being, drop in sessions. Ideally relatives should make an appointment with the bereavement team to receive official paperwork before making final arrangements. However, rather than turning bereaved families away, they can wait for a time slot the same day.
Whilst talking to the bereavement team, I asked a funeral director about their experience.
He has a “better relationship with the team which helps him in his working day”; the new improved process is “smoother thus faster for his grieving families to arrange final arrangements.”
Although the bereavement team have improved their services to clinicians and bereaved families, the manager says they are a long way to go to achieve the dream of providing perfect bereavement care at Wirral. However she is incredibly proud of her team and what they have they have achieved so far.