To mark National Grief Awareness Week, we spoke to Dr Sharmeen Hasan, Consultant Geriatrician at King’s, who told us about the Trust’s end of life care service for patients and their families.
“As well as looking after inpatients on our Health and Aging Unit and the @Home service, I am also End of Life Care Lead. This role is about supporting people in the last year of their life, and helping patients live as well as possible until they die.
"As clinicians and professionals, talking about death and dying does not detract from a person’s living but can facilitate adding more quality to their life before they die.
“It’s very easy to identify the end of someone’s life in retrospect, but the challenge becomes improving their experience before this, as well as supporting their relatives and friends after they have died.
"The pandemic has brought a lot of stark decisions and challenges around end of life care. During the first wave, we saw a lot of patients dying apart from their relatives, and there have been changes to funeral processes and grieving.
“I’m proud to say that we set up Bereavement Hubs across the Trust. Through this, we contacted several hundred families of all patients who have died since the pandemic, regardless of their Covid status. We have provided support around grief, counselling, practical issues to do with funerals, and patient property. We held services of reflection for staff back in July and have just held virtual memorial services for relatives.
“Advanced care planning and having honest conversations with patients and their families about death and dying affords them the opportunity and time to plan. It’s not easy but I feel passionate about this important work."