The BMJ Awards 2018: Patient Partnership Team of the YearBMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1705 (Published 19 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1705
- Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist
- London, UK
Many people die in hospital, though they might not choose to. So, it is legitimate to ask how good hospitals are at dealing with bereavement, as did the Cheshire and Merseyside Palliative and End of Life Care Network. Working with a group of service users under the banner People’s Voice, they commissioned a survey of relatives of those who had died in hospices, hospitals, or at home. “The experience of hospitals fell below those of the other two,” says Julie Raj, a palliative care consultant at Aintree Hospital in Liverpool and chair of the group.
A shortage of information and a lack of adequate support were among the complaints. The group set out to produce guidance, in the form of a specification which trusts should seek to meet. “We know that resources are limited,” she says, “so we produced both a minimum and a gold specification. All hospitals should have the minimum standard in place, while the gold standard is an aspiration.”
The specification includes what should be on hospital websites, signposting and information leaflets, facilities for families and carers, bereavement office and mortuary support, and staff training and education.
“Our aim is to inform people who work in hospitals and make them look at the services they offer, and where the gaps are,” Raj says. “Measuring outcomes is difficult with an initiative like this, but our plan is to visit all the trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside and measure how they’re implementing the guidance. I hope a survey of bereaved relatives will also show an improved experience.”
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