Fostering Grief and Bereavement Literacy in the Workplace for Those Who Serve People Experiencing Homelessness

Our recent research in BC shows that there is lack of grief support services available for people experiencing homelessness after they lose someone they care about. One common source of grief support for people experiencing homelessness are frontline workers. Yet, recent research found that frontline workers are commonly not provided grief support training, and their own work-related grief after a client dies is largely unsupported. In our survey of frontline workers in BC, almost all expressed a desire to increase their knowledge of grief.

Our project aims to improve grief knowledge and support skills for frontline workers who serve people experiencing homelessness. The project includes two steps: 1) Co-creating and testing an online grief education module and resources with a working group of community-based organizations, subject matter experts, and public partners; 2) Launching the developed module and resources through a symposium and exploring with experts in the field ways to make them more accessible for frontline workers. The ultimate goal of the project is to enhance the grief literacy for frontline workers and improve their abilities to provide better grief support to their clients who are experiencing homelessness.

A provincial evidence-based approach to better support people experiencing bereavement in British Columbia

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the scale of bereavement and those bereaved is becoming apparent, with an estimated 9 people affected by bereavement for each COVID-19 death. Social distancing measures have decreased opportunities for people who are dying to connect with their loved ones, and for bereaved people to access social supports such as traditional rituals and support groups. A potential impact of this is prolonged or complicated grief.

This project aims to help bereaved people access effective supports. We propose hosting a provincial roundtable discussion, where every participant can contribute equally to a structured conversation on how existing bereavement services could be improved. We will invite service providers, bereaved people, policy makers, researchers, and others doing relevant work to participate in the roundtable. The discussion will be guided by recently collected information from bereaved people and service providers in BC about their experiences and views of bereavement care.

After the discussion, the participants will work together to recommend actions to improve the bereavement experience in BC. The recommendations can also be used to inform the development of supportive policies and future research.

Team members: Marney Thompson (Victoria Hospice Society); Kathleen Yue (BC Centre for Palliative Care); Rachel Carter (BC Centre for Palliative Care); Nicolas Starkes (UBC Okanagan); Heather Mohan (Camp Kerry Society); Jessica Lowe (BC Bereavement Helpline); Shelly Cory (Canadian Virtual Hospice); D’Arcy Wingrove; Annette Berndt