Blog post: How the pandemic has affected families and NHS staff I support

by Kristin O'Neill
Child Bereavement UK's Bereavement Support Team Lead
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

The Covid-19 pandemic has made emotions very heightened for families we support. Without access to people around them who they would usually look to for support, such as family and friends, many tell us they feel extremely isolated.

Added to this are worries about the impact of Covid on their families; some bereaved parents are coping with the death of a family member from the virus while also grieving for their child. Many bereaved families feel very protective of surviving children and for them the pandemic has added an extra layer of concern.

We have had a lot of new referrals since the pandemic began from families who were coming to terms with their bereavement but now find they are struggling. Being in the house much of the time, being unable to see family and friends and the constant news about the death toll brings difficult feelings back, so that everything becomes too much again.

The pandemic is difficult too for hospital staff who have often been in need of emotional support. They may be caring in fraught situations for children who are dying, and their families, while also dealing with their own bereavements – it can be hard to remain resilient.

Fortunately, we've been able to continue supporting families despite the pandemic via Zoom and telephone, including holding family support groups more frequently. We also continued to support staff at the hospital with individual drop-ins and staff training and debriefs, again done via Zoom - for many just being able to talk to someone is important.  We are beginning now to see people face-to-face again.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we find there is always a way. It might not be the same as before, but we can always find different ways of doing things.

 

Kristin O'Neill, Child Bereavement UK
(Picture taken before Covid-19)