Evaluation of a Bereavement Training Programme for Staff

Author(s): Sile Reynolds, Senior Occupational Therapist

Department: St Michael’s House

(29 Jul 2009)
Supporting people with a learning disability through death and bereavement is a major challenge for front-line staff. The present study examines the impact of a two-day training course on staff knowledge and confidence in ability to support service users at a time of loss. Seventeen staff who completed training were compared with 16 of their colleagues on a variety of measures before and after the delivery of training. Measures included a) knowledge and experience of bereavement among learning disabled service users (Murray et al., 2000), b) confidence in coping with bereavement situations, c) perceptions of support and satisfaction in the work place (Harris & Rose, 2003).

Three-quarters of study participants (n=24) had experience supporting learning disabled service users through a bereavement. In addition, both staff groups had an accurate knowledge of the grief process specific to people with a learning disability and were able to identify appropriate interventions at the time of loss, but were generally lacking in confidence. Following the provision of training there was a significant increase in confidence specific to supporting bereaved service users among training participants. However, support and satisfaction in the workplace remained unchanged for both groups. These findings and evaluation data from course participants are discussed within the context of ongoing support and training for staff supporting service users and broader organisational issues, such as access to general bereavement and managerial support.

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