As part of our new organisational strategy, Objective 4: “We are Demelza” will see us provide professional development and growth to all of our staff over the next five years.

This important work has already begun, with bereavement training now available to all teams across the organisation. The two hour Zoom course led by Jo Burton, Demelza’s Therapeutic and Bereavement Lead, was introduced at the start of this year in response to staff feedback requesting additional support with this sensitive topics.

Jo said: “Grief, Loss and bereavement is integral to Demelza and affects us all. Regardless of our role, we each have a part to play. It is often assumed that staff feel equipped and confident in being able to manage issues and support around grief, loss and bereavement, but this is not necessarily the case.”

The introductory course covers a range of areas including bereavement theory, what is bereavement and how people grieve, removing the fears and barriers to communication around bereavement and how Demelza supports the bereavement process. One of the first people to complete the new course was Jade McManus, Voluntary Services Officer.

She said: “Having the chance to learn more about bereavement with Jo was invaluable for my role. Looking at models of grief was a good way to try and understand what our families are experiencing. The training also covered communication, and gave me more confidence in talking to families when they are on their bereavement journey, as I was always concerned about not knowing what to say or saying the wrong thing.”

Jade’s thoughts are also echoed by HR’s Senior People Services Assistant Andrea Dench, who has supported in the roll out of the training. She said: “After experiencing a very emotional situation with a father in reception on my own last year I was delighted to be able to attend the bereavement training with Jo Burton in January.  I now feel better equipped to talk with families.”

Feedback from clinical and non-clinical staff has been overwhelmingly positive. The attendance numbers also speak for them themselves, with around 90 people across four sessions expected to have completed the course by the end of the year. 

Tessa Paton, Head of Communications, has experience in interviewing bereaved families but still came away with new knowledge to support her role and share with fellow Marketing and Communications colleagues.   

Tessa said: “It was really interesting to hear Jo the fact that you do not need to have a death to experience loss. Families experience loss in many ways, over an extended period of time. This can begin from the time a diagnosis is shared, or when health concerns are raised during pregnancy. 

“Suddenly parents are having to reconsider the child they were expecting to have and adjusting to their new reality. Supporting a child with a serious or terminal condition brings further potential further losses, from having to change careers or the additional strain it can bring to friends and family, resulting in losses of relationships. It really made me think about the bigger picture.”