One-stop support for grieving people
9 November 2009
Establishing a one-stop shop where grieving people can seek help and support is one of the key recommendations from a study into bereavement services.
Dr Phil Connors and research partner Jerusha Toonen from Deakin University were commissioned by Barwon Bereavement Services and the Wesley Centre for Life Enrichment to carry out the study, which looked at support services available to people in the Geelong community dealing with the death of an adult.
"Our study found that while the services available in Geelong are considered to be quality services, there aren't enough of them to meet current and future demand," Dr Connors said.
"Although we focused on the Geelong region, I think our findings could also be relevant to other communities where bereavement services are over-stretched."
Dr Connors said that for every person that dies there are approximately 10 people seriously affected by grief, with one in 10 people requiring specific support during the grieving process.
"Everyone grieves differently. How we deal with loss and bereavement is influenced by countless social, personal, contextual and environmental factors.
"There needs to be a variety of services available to meet the different bereavement needs that will be present in any community."These range from the provision of accessible and accurate information to family and community support networks to more formalised peer group support programs to professional counselling and therapy."
As well as identifying gaps in available services, the study also looked at how to best use what is already in place.
"Our research found that services are most efficiently used when the bereavement needs of the individual are clearly identified.
"We believe that establishing an appropriately resourced one-stop shop for bereavement services will make it easier for grieving people, either directly or through referral, to find the help and support available in their community.
"It could also help communities to make the best of the bereavement services they have while they are waiting for gaps in those services to be filled," Dr Connors said.
The study focused on adult bereavement services, Dr Connors explained, because these services were not as well-developed in the Geelong region as services to support people dealing with the death of a child.
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