To mark ‘Dying Matters’ Awareness Week, Dr. Frances Duffy, Consultant Clinical Psychologist from the Northern Health & Social Care Trust, and Joanne Ballentine, a Northern Ireland Hospice Nurse Specialist for Dementia, have collaborated on a special project during COVID-19. Together, they have developed the resource, ‘Supporting a person with Dementia following Bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Explaining why this was an important piece of work for both organisations, Frances said, “This is an extremely difficult time for everyone, we have seen first-hand how bereavement during COVID-19 can be extremely isolating and traumatic. When a person with dementia is told that someone they love has died, what they understand and how they respond will depend on the stage of their dementia. Some people will understand and experience grief, others may not fully understand and some may understand and become upset but forget after a short time. There is the potential for increased distress both for the person with dementia and also those who love and support them who may also be grieving. We hope this guidance will be helpful when sharing the news about death and offering support.”
The comprehensive guidance provides advice such as, when and how to break the news of a death, and how to cope if the person doesn’t remember the death of a loved one.
Joanne added, “We hope this advice will help to reduce stress and distress for both the person with dementia and those who love and care for them during this very challenging time. With many of our dementia patients self-isolating, it is important for us at Northern Ireland Hospice to continue to provide emotional and practical support. We have been lucky to be able to work closely with the Frances and the Northern Trust to provide that help.”
Supporting a person with Dementia following Bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on www.nihospice.org/Covid19resources or www.northerntrust.hscni.net/CLEAR