Thursday 19th September 2013
A partnership between Cruse Bereavement Care and Macmillan has improved support for people bereaved by cancer in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area.
Cruse is a national charity that offers support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies, and aims to enhance society’s care of bereaved people. Cruse offers support whenever or however the death occurred and services are provided by trained, experienced volunteers. Cruse offers face-to-face, group, phone, email and online support
In Northern Ireland, Cruse has seven offices, organised in line with the five Health and Social Care Trusts, supported by the regional office. So our work at Cruse Northern Area covers the same geographical area as the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
When the Macmillan Palliative Care Unit opened at Antrim Area Hospital, as a result of a partnership between Macmillan, the Northern Trust and the Department of Health and Social Services, it became clear there was a gap in support for people who are bereaved as a result of cancer, whether at the unit or in the wider community.
Cruse was already aware of the statistics: of the 14,000 deaths each year in Northern Ireland, cancer is the number one cause. This is reflected in our own figures – from the 2,500 clients accessing face-to-face support from Cruse each year, cancer is most commonly cited as the cause of death.
With the opening of the new unit and this evidence in mind, we began discussions with Macmillan staff in Northern Ireland about how a partnership could benefit people bereaved through cancer throughout the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area. Our number one priority was to provide effective bereavement support to people affected by cancer, using our expertise and local network of trained volunteers.
With this partnership, volunteers who have already been through an extensive selection process, and who have received comprehensive training and are experienced in bereavement counselling, receive further training from Macmillan. This helps to increase their knowledge and skills specifically related to cancer.
To kick-start the partnership, we were able to recruit additional volunteers and have since trained 16 new counsellors. We began recording activity for this new service from November 2012. In the first six months, we supported 49 clients, either through face-to-face support or providing leaflets or advice.
The activity of the service will continue to be monitored by a steering group, and client feedback will form a part of this process. This work gives people affected by cancer a holistic package of care. Patients will have received care in the community or in the palliative care unit and this is complemented by the vital bereavement support offered to people close to them.
The palliative care unit provided a good base for this service that may not be available elsewhere, but it’s a first step in this partnership, which has the potential to develop across Northern Ireland and possibly throughout the UK. It’s a common aim for both organisations to improve end of life care and it’s good practice for us to be sharing our expertise. Cruse has valued the support of Macmillan in the creation of this service and looks forward to working together to improve bereavement care.
Email Anne Townsend, Director Cruse Bereavement Care in Northern Ireland.
Other articles about Northern Ireland from this issue of Mac Voice
Empowering carers - A project in Northern Ireland's Southern Health and Social Care Trust area is supporting carers of people with cancer.
Survivorship - How a survivorship programme of work has benefited people across the country.
Urological cancer follow-up - Looking at a new programme supporting men with prostate and testicular cancers.
Bereavement support - Supporting people bereaved by cancer through a partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care.
What do you think of Mac Voice online?
Please let us know your thoughts by taking part in this short survey.