A lesser known part of the work that we do, is the psychosocial support that we provide to our caregivers, specifically after their loved ones have passed on. We found that there were limited touch points and ‘support’, for families and caregivers – and this ignited our desire to provide universal bereavement care to our bereaved families, at least at the initial level.
Nearly eight months in the making, the team is ready to pilot HCA CAREs for bereaved families of our adult patients.
We considered many areas but we knew it was important for us to strengthen our care for bereaved families who had received support from HCA. We wanted to ensure some continuity of connection with our families during their first year of bereavement.
And we wanted to bring comfort and support through letters or messages from other bereaved individuals by normalizing their grief experience. We envisioned providing options for bereaved families to access resources during different time points in their bereavement journey. Most importantly, to reinforce the importance of self-care and continuing bonds during their bereavement.
Our initial recipients of the set of four Comfort Decks will receive them 1-month, 3-months, 6-months, and 11-months post-death. These decks have been carefully crafted with sensitivity and love, with support from various teams within HCA.
In Comfort Deck 1, we will focus on “Farewell & Self-Care”. We encourage families and caregivers to be kind to themselves and provide ideas on what they can do to take care. I have written the first letter to be included in Comfort Deck 1 – a message of remembrance, love, peace and care – from one bereaved individual to another.
“Remembering” our loved ones even though they are no longer with us is the focus of Comfort Deck 2. We ask what words and memories hold dear in all our hearts and provide ideas on some rituals of remembering.
Comfort Deck 3 aims to remind bereaved families of “Continuing Bonds”, that our loved ones always have a place in our hearts. We recall our cherished moments and continue to talk about them openly.
Finally, as we approach the anniversary, in Comfort Deck 4, we look towards “Legacy and Hope”. Our loved one’s legacy lives on and so do their values, spirit and love. What are our hopes for the future?
Our team is now extending support to bereaved families, not the easiest of tasks, especially since the patient, our link, has passed on. But I do hope that all our bereaved families will read these Comfort Decks and find a little solace in them. That they find them useful and continue to live as best they can for their loved ones. I thank the team for going the extra mile to do the best we can, not just for the patient, but for their families and caregivers!