Survey launched to better understand the needs of people who have lost a loved one

A survey has been launched with the aim of better understanding the many different needs of people experiencing grief after bereavement.

The survey covers all kinds of loss, including expected or sudden deaths, miscarriages or the death of children and young people. Anyone who is affected by a bereavement or is supporting someone through grief – both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic – is being encouraged to submit their views.

The launch of the survey, which carries on running until 18 January 2022 and can be found at Kingston bereavement support and services survey (surveymonkey.co.uk), followed a series of focus groups in which participants from different backgrounds spoke about their needs.

One Kingston focus group attendee said: “The Tamil community doesn’t like to talk about death before it happens. There is a lack of awareness of services due to language barriers. Translated practical support for organisations to share with service users after death, as well as emotional support would be helpful.”

Another Kingston respondent said: “I feel it is important to accept that each of us responds in a different way to the loss of a loved one and we have different ways of coping. There is huge value in participating in activities and rituals that focus on loss. Believing that death is not the end.”

The survey is being run by Kingston Voluntary Action and Healthwatch Kingston in partnership with a range of partners including South West London Clinical Commissioning Group and Kingston Council’s public health team under the umbrella of the South West London Bereavement Think Tank.

Dr Catherine Millington-Sanders, South West London CCG’s End of Life Care Clinical Lead for Kingston said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on grief. After someone close to us dies, we all grieve in our own unique way. In order to ensure people get the bereavement support they need, when they need it, we want your help to better understand what matters most to you after the loss of someone close to you. So please take some time to give us your views.”

Kingston Voluntary Action (KVA) CEO Sanja Djeric Kane said: Covid-19 has affected ethnic minorities disproportionately, with deaths from those groups two to four times greater than deaths among the white population in England. KVA will be engaging specifically with ethnic minority communities, seldom heard communities and those from faith, belief and life philosophy groups in order to get a better understanding of diversity in the context of loss and bereavement in our borough and inform the development of future services.”  

Healthwatch Kingston Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bitti said: “As the local health and social care champion, Healthwatch Kingston makes sure NHS leaders and other decision makers hear the voices of Kingston residents. We will use this local engagement feedback from patients, service users, the public and professionals to improve bereavement support and care in our borough and across south west London.”

Kingston Council’s Director of Public Health Iona Lidington said: “The responses to this survey will be vital in helping us to find out more from people about the information, advice and support they would find helpful when they are bereaved. The findings from this survey will help us better understand the bereavement support needed for the future and I really hope people will take time to give us their views.”

One of the questions asks what grieving process matters most because “the support people need differs between faiths, beliefs, life philosophies, cultures, social circumstances and across generations”. Another asks what type of services and support people would expect to be able to call upon and where they would expect to find it.

A report on the findings will be published and shared with all the organisations involved in the survey as well as Kingston’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to help inform the provision of bereavement support and services in Kingston. The learning from will then support similar work in other south west London boroughs.

Background information