A new bereavement guide aims to support the loved ones of aged care residents through the grief and loss they may experience at different stages.

The set of resources have been developed by Flinders University, SA Health and grief information service GriefLink with funding from SA Health’s Palliative Care 2020 Grants program.

When someone dies in residential aged care: Grief and loss for families, which was released this week to coincide with National Palliative Care Week, outlines the likely bereavement stages from entry into aged care through to end of life.

Flinders University Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death and Dying director Professor Jennifer Tieman said the bereavement guide aims to support families before and after the death of a loved one in aged care.

Professor Jennifer Tieman

“It’s designed as a guide over what could happen over time and provides tips, resources and links to different types of groups, facilities and information that could used for support,” Professor Tieman told Australian Ageing Agenda.

When somebody goes into residential aged care, there’s often been a family involved in looking after them up to a point and the nature of the relationship changes as they enter residential aged care, she said.

“Sometimes the grief and loss that they may feel when someone dies in residential aged care may not be recognised and they may not quite know what to do and where to find supports,” Professor Tieman.

Guide fills gap in bereavement support

The information in the guide is based on a systematic review of research and interviews with family members and people in residential aged care.

Professor Tieman said the resource filled a gap in bereavement support in relation to death and dying in residential aged care despite that being where around one third of deaths in South Australia occur each year.

When someone dies in residential
aged care: Grief and loss for families guide.

“Often bereavement support seems to be about people who are living in their own home, who may be cared for at home or who are intermittent in hospital,” she said.

Professor Tieman said she hopes they hoped the guide helped acknowledge that people can feel grief and loss when somebody goes into residential aged care, she said.

“[It’s] giving people recognition that they can have quite complex emotions over this period so that they can talk about it, plan for it, understand what’s involved and that they can know it’s not just them. This is how people feel as they go through these journeys,” Professor Tieman said.

Elsewhere for National Palliative Care Week, Palliative Care Australia has launched a national campaign to educate the community about the benefits of palliative care

The animated campaign, Palliative Care it’s more than you think, is running on television, print and online.

The campaign wants everyone to know that palliative care can help manage pain and symptoms so that people living with a life-limiting illness can live as well as possible.  

Access the grief and loss guide and find out more about the campaign.

Main image: Cover image of bereavement resource When someone dies in residential aged care: Grief and loss for families guide.

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