Bereavement support during COVID-19

We have received a lot of feedback from colleagues across the NHS asking for central guidance and support following the loss of a colleague, friend or family member during the Coronavirus pandemic.   

People grieve in different ways and there is no right or wrong way to react to the death of a colleague, friend or family member.  Many people find it helpful to reach out and talk to someone about their feelings, other may wish to deal with the loss in private.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have put together a suite of resources that aim to help you access support during what will be a difficult time for our staff, given the restrictions and changes to normal grieving patterns and processes for staff who come from diverse backgrounds.

This guide includes resources to support you personally during a bereavement and resources that will help you as a line manager feel better equipped to support your staff, noting the cultural diversity of our workforce. You can also find support through:

Bereavement support line

Bereavement support line: 0300 303 4434

We also have a confidential bereavement support line, operated by Hospice UK and free to access from 8:00am – 8:00pm, seven days a week.

A team of fully qualified and trained bereavement specialists are available to support you with bereavement and wellbeing issues relating to loss experienced through your work.

You will be offered up to 3 sessions with the same counsellor and onward support to our staff mental health services if you need.

Bereavement and suicide support apps

We recognise that some staff, including those with existing mental health concerns, may be particularly struggling during lock down given the changes to every day routine, and we are therefore offering free access to a suicide prevention and support app for all NHS and social care staff:

Grassroots is a charity who aim to prevent suicide through open and direct conversations.  Their free app is an easily accessible suicide prevention resource, packed full of useful information to help colleagues stay safe. Colleagues can use it if they are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.

Support Now also has other general mental health and wellbeing self-help apps available.

10 steps for managers in the event of a death or suicide in service

We have created a 10 steps to help line managers with practical advice about what to do to in the event of a death or suicide in service.

Guide Content

Support for me as an individual
Support for me as a line manager
Guidance on good leadership during bereavement and complex grief
Do’s and don’ts for leading following a bereavement
Further resources