Written by Professor Jennifer Tieman, Director, RePaDD
Many Australians are affected by a bereavement each year, and this can affect their health and wellbeing.
Family and friends who experience death whilst the person is associated with a palliative care program may be able to access grief support during and after the illness. Others who are not connected with a service, however, may experience inconsistent access to support or resources.
The role of communities and primary care in providing formal and informal support to bereaved people is not well understood in the context of a population approach to bereavement care.
While there are already some excellent resources including Grieflink and the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, the ability to rapidly and easily navigate to consumer and professional information seemed to be lacking.
With an ageing population and anticipated increases in the number of deaths in the next decade, access to bereavement information has become more important. This need has been underlined by COVID-19 where potential factors influencing the experience of grief and loss may have been exacerbated by changing access to hospitals and aged care facilities, limits to participants for funerals, and lock downs and social distancing changing rituals for mourning.
As part of its Statewide Bereavement Mapping project, SA Health engaged Flinders University’s Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death, and Dying (RePaDD) to identify online national and international evidence-based bereavement resources, including risk assessment tools, and to develop a framework and content for an online bereavement portal.
RePaDD Director Professor Jennifer Tieman and RHD member Ms Raechel Damarell completed an environmental scan of online Australian bereavement resources, services, and supports that might be used by South Australians at the individual, community, and health professional levels. They also conducted a rapid literature review for evidence-based tools and resources to support assessment and management of bereavement.
The findings from this work were translated into a set of online resource pages easily found on the SA Health website providing needed information for bereaved people, those supporting a bereaved person, GPs, aged care services and specialist palliative care clinicians.
Together they provide information across the population, and they connect to trustworthy and relevant materials. The bereavement portal was released in July 2021 and is now available on the SA Health website.