Health and social care charity Sue Ryder is to pilot an online bereavement service to support people dealing with grief.
The scheme will offer people one-to-one video “chat” sessions with a trained counsellor who can provide emotional support and help with practical issues that arise when someone dies.
The new service is accessible via the Sue Ryder Online Community website and launches initially as a six-month trial. Logged in members will be able to book video support sessions with bereavement counsellors at times to suit their schedules.
Sue Ryder’s online community was primarily designed to support people facing the end of life. Since its launch in 2015 it has expanded into supporting thousands of people dealing with bereavement following a loved one’s death, the charity says.
“We do not talk enough about dying and death in our culture,” said Lizzie Procter, director at the charity’s Manorlands Hospice. “So it’s no wonder that when the inevitable happens and someone we care for dies, many of us struggle and feel entirely alone.
“As our online community has grown, it’s become clear there’s a real need for people to have a space to share experiences and feelings, to vent, to support each other and to call for help.”
By using “chat” technology the charity can reach more people in “a place where they can speak face to face with someone with expertise in bereavement support or counselling in a space where they feel safe and comfortable, in their own home,” she said.
The service was developed through “discovery days” with current online community members and “cold users” to see how one-to-one video support would work.
Sue Ryder offers a range of services aimed at improving the lives of people - patients, carers and their wider families - affected by conditions such as cancer, heart failure, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.