Background: Bereavement follow up is an integral element of palliative care. However, little is known about the systems that link bereavement services with bereaved carers.

Aim: To map how effectively a specialist palliative care service linked bereavement service to bereaved carers.

Methodology: A retrospective medical audit, using process mapping was undertaken within one Australian specialist palliative care service to identify the systems that linked bereavement services to a consecutive cohort of palliative care decedents (n=60) next of kin.

Results: Bereavement records were located for 80% of decedents. Nearly all (98%) had a nominated next of kin, with just over half (54%) of those nominated contacted by bereavement services. Incomplete or missing contact details was the main reason (75%) that the bereavement service was unable to contact the decedents’ next of kin.

Conclusion: Having access to a designated bereavement service can ensure that bereaved next of kin are contract routinely and in a timely way. However the effectiveness of this type of service is dependent upon the bereavement service having access to all relevant contact information. There are numerous opportunities to refine and strengthen the recording of palliative care next of kin details to optimize follow up.


Palliative care, Bereavement, Referral, Caregivers, Process mapping

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