Friday 1st July 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Summer 2016
A new Macmillan booklet adds to the range of support we offer.
Bereavement support has been part of Macmillan’s history since the charity was established by Douglas Macmillan, whose father died from cancer.
As a bereaved man, he wanted to make a difference and founded the Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer in 1911. This went on to become Macmillan Cancer Support and we still respect that legacy. Bereavement is still central to the support Macmillan offers.
More than 160,000 people die from cancer each year and many more individuals are affected by each of these deaths. Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care: A national framework for local action 2015– 2020  sets out some clear priorities to improve the quality of end of life care and support, including support for the bereaved. The determination to improve palliative care and bereavement support is also clear in Scotland’s Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care 2016–21. Both of these documents stress the role that both professionals and the public have in providing support to the bereaved, since ‘dying, death and bereavement are not primarily health and social care events; they affect every aspect of people’s lives and experience’.
Macmillan contributes actively to this broad-based provision of bereavement support and can also help its professionals, in whatever role, to be part of a ‘compassionate community’.
How we can help
Macmillan has a range of information, available in various formats, which can support people who are bereaved. These resources can be ordered free from be.Macmillan and include the following:
• After someone dies: coping with bereavement (MAC15371) is a brand new booklet that has recently been published, providing clear advice and information on the practical and emotional impact of a death from cancer. While aimed at people who are bereaved or preparing for bereavement, the booklet can also be used by a range of professionals to enhance their understanding.
• Preparing a child for loss (MAC15372) is a booklet created in partnership with Winston’s Wish, which helps parents and guardians support a child through loss, with suggestions applicable both before and after a death.
• The Macmillan website mirrors the content of these booklets for those who prefer digital information.
• Audio books and ebooks are also available, as well as Easy Read information for people who find it difficult to read, including those with learning disabilities. All our other formats are available here.
Macmillan Support Line
People who are bereaved can call to get support, advice and information from our cancer support specialists, and be directed to local services when necessary. They can also speak to our welfare rights advisers about whether they might be eligible for bereavement benefits. They can call 0808 808 00 00.
There are two bereavement-specific groups on the Online Community. One is for family and friends, and another is for spouses and partners. Through these groups and others within the community, bereaved people can get and give support to people who have been through similar experiences.
Mobile information and support services
Staff in Macmillan’s four mobile units meet with a significant number of bereaved people across the UK, in locations where there is often no comparable service. These trained professionals from a number of relevant backgrounds can take the time to listen, support and signpost on to other agencies when needed. Go online to find out where the mobile units will be located and when.
Macmillan professionals and services
There are Macmillan palliative care professionals, information and support centres, benefits advice services and specialist bereavement services across the country who are regularly in touch with and provide valuable face-to-face support to people who are bereaved.
Learning and development
Macmillan professionals can apply for a grant to pay for relevant development relating to loss and bereavement. Macmillan has also commissioned a range of e-learning courses for professionals available via the Learn Zone. ‘Loss, Grief and Bereavement’ is one such course. Macmillan also recognises the personal impact working with loss can have. Support and supervision is vital for those professionals who encounter loss and grief as part of their work. Learn Zone also offers courses that help professionals think about emotional wellbeing and resilience.
Giving something back and doing something active can be an important way of remembering the person who has died. From getting involved in an event such as a marathon to setting up a tribute fund, fundraising for Macmillan can be beneficial for many people to cope with their grief. There's more information online.
If you would like any further information about the range of ways in which bereaved people can get support from Macmillan, please contact Sridevi Singh and Donal Gallagher.
1. Macmillan Cancer Support. Statistics fact sheet. January 2015
2. National Palliative and End of Life Care Partnership. Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care: A national framework for local action
2015–2020. September 2015.
3. The Scottish Government. Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care 2016–21. December 2015.
4. Public Health England and the National Council for Palliative Care. Public Health Approaches to End of Life Care – A Toolkit. 2014.