How do counsellors assess pre and post bereavement needs and implement support to children/young people and their families within children's hospice services throughout the U.K?

  • Christine Buscombe

Student thesis: Phd


The rationale for this study arose from the researcher's own practice as a children's hospice counsellor, being given the challenge of providing emotional support to all those wishing to access a counselling service within a children's hospice. How could one counsellor fulfil such a responsibility? What was meant by the term "support?" What part did the hospice's multi-disciplinary team play within the provision of this support? Such questions, the researcher felt, needed to be put to a wider audience and the aim of this study was to examine children's hospice counsellors' practice of assessing needs and implementing pre and post bereavement support to children/young people and their families who access a U.K. children's hospice service. A phenomenological approach was adopted and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with seven children's hospice counsellors were transcribed verbatim. The researcher identified salient information and categorised forming themes using thematic analysis. Quotes were selected that captured the semantics of these themes.The main findings were that pre-bereavement support activities were being provided by members of the hospices' multi-disciplinary teams. The assessment of needs during the this stage was found to be carried out by members of the nursing staff encompassing medical as well as psycho-social needs. It was also discovered that children's hospice counsellors were more actively engaged in post-bereavement support and informally assessing bereavement needs. In addition, bereavement needs assessment was being carried out by a variety of professionals who had had some involvement with the family during the pre-bereavement stage.Implications of the findings suggested that counsellors could be more actively involved in pre-bereavement assessment of families' needs. It was also indicated from the results that in-depth training on anticipatory grief and the grieving process, as well as supervision of other professionals supporting family members, could be delivered by children's hospice counsellors.It was recommended that the subject of assessment of both pre and post bereavement needs of the diverse client groups accessing support services be opened up for wider debate and dialogue within the arena of children's hospice services and paediatric palliative care.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorClare Lennie (Supervisor) & William West (Supervisor)


  • Assessment
  • Bereavement needs
  • Children's hospice

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