‘Silent epidemic of grief’ leaves bereaved and bereavement care practitioners struggling to cope
The first major study of pandemic-related changes in bereavement care, from the University of Cambridge, describes the drastic changes in bereavement care that have occurred, amid a flood of demand for help from bereaved people.
The researchers found that the switch to remote working has helped some services to reach out, but many feel they do not have capacity to meet people’s needs and the risks of complicated and prolonged grief responses have become higher during the pandemic.
In the research, published in BMJ Open, researchers at Cambridge’s Department of Public Health and Primary Care report the results of an online survey sent to health and social care staff in August 2020. 805 people responded, including those working in community, care home, hospital and hospice settings across the UK and Ireland.
Dr Caroline Pearce, the lead researcher, said: “Bereavement care has undergone major changes in both acute and community settings affecting bereaved people, clinicians, support workers and the wider health and social care system. The increased potential for prolonged and complicated grief responses among those bereaved during this period is particularly concerning.”
This study was funded by National Institute of Health Research, School for Primary Care Research.
Pearce C, Honey JR, Lovick R, et al. ‘A silent epidemic of grief’: a survey of bereavement care provision in the UK and Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic, BMJ Open 2021;11:e046872. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-046872: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/11/3/e046872