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In July 2008 the Department of Health launched its End of Life Care Strategy. The Executive Summary of the Strategy highlights apparent inconsistence in the level and quality of care being offered at the present time to the dying patient and their families/carers both before and after the death of the patient. “Some people do indeed die as they would have wished, but many others do not. Some people experience excellent care in hospitals, hospices, care homes and in their own homes. But the reality is that many do not.” The purpose of the Strategy is to set out key areas in which care can and should be improved. It addresses both the last days of a patient’s life and care after death. It also looks at involving and supporting families and carers and at the care that family/carers may require after the death of a loved one. It also addresses issues around training and developing staff.

Material prepared for the End of Life Care Work Stream within the Surrey Primary Care Trust indicates that at any one time about 25% of inpatients in acute hospitals are in the last year of life. In the light of this Commissioners of acute care will in future require evidence that both the dying patient and their carers are provided with “appropriate support both during the patient’s time in Hospital and in the period around death”. This Bereavement Policy aims to reflect areas of good practice within our Trust and to encourage a consistency in standards and in practice across all parts of the Trust.

The issues that this policy seeks to address include communication issues particularly with reference to breaking bad news, the provision of appropriate religious and spiritual support, the privacy and dignity of the patient and his/her family/carers, issues relating to the care of the deceased patient and to the information and support offered to the bereaved following their loss. By drawing on examples of existing good practice this policy aims to set a standard that is eminently acceptable and achievable within the constraints of the acute hospital setting Reference is made throughout the policy to other Trust policies and supporting documents. All of these are available on Trust Net or in hard copy either in the clinical areas or through the Bereavement Office.

The policy has been prepared with the input and support of the Trust End of Life Care Steering Group. It has been impact assessed with the help of a group of local religious/faith leaders and representatives. The End of Life Care Steering Group aims to provide a constant review of the policy and of its implementation across the Trust.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Rev Judith Allford, Head of Pastoral Care
Ratified by: Clinical Governance Committee
Date Ratified: August 2013
Date Issued: August 2013
Review Date: March 2016
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Rev Judith Allford, Head of Pastoral Care


See also:

  • End of Life Care Strategy
  • Communicating Significant news: Guidelines for Best Practice
  • Last Offices Nursing Procedure including Last Offices for an Infectious Patient
  • Patient’s property policy and procedures
  • Mortuary Viewing policy and procedure
  • Policy and procedure for the early release of the deceased patient out of normal working hours
  • Meeting the Patient’s Religious Needs:
  • Bereavement booklet: Help for the bereaved,
  • Guidelines following the loss of a baby after miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of pregnancy for abnormality, and neo-natal death
  • Guidelines to Follow in the Event of a Death Occurring on the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit
  • Resuscitation Policy
  • Handling Deaths at Ashford Hospital)
  • Bereavement Office: Doctor’s Training Pack,
  • Guidance for Doctors on Post-Mortem Examinations,
  • Tissue Donation Policy
  • Guidelines for Using Interpreting Service