Guid­ing rel­a­tives in the griev­ing process

Be­reave­ment of­fi­cers face un­en­vi­able daily tasks

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­

HELP­ING rel­a­tives come to terms with the loss of a loved one is un­doubt­edly one of the hard­est jobs any med­i­cal pro­fes­sional faces.

At Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal, where more than 60 pa­tients die ev­ery month, the un­en­vi­able duty falls to be­reave­ment of­fi­cers such as Anne Jenkinson and Gill McGuin­ness.

It is their job to gen­tly guide rel­a­tives through the process, of­fer­ing support and ex­plain­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive formalities.

Their busiest time is on a Mon­day morn­ing, as up to 20 deaths are rou­tinely recorded over the week­end. Be­tween ward rounds, doc­tors come in and out of the of­fice to sign doc­u­men­ta­tion.

“We never know what’s go­ing to come through the door,” said Anne, 63, who has spent 25 years in the role and lives in south Buck­ing­hamshire.

“Peo­ple re­act dif­fer­ently to grief. Some want to get in and out of here as quickly as pos­si­ble while oth­ers want to sit and talk. Our job is to support the rel­a­tives.

“It’s an ex­tremely re­ward­ing job, but it can be tough. You need to un­der­stand that peo­ple re­act to grief dif­fer­ently.”

The team works closely with doc­tors, who com­plete and sign off forms in­clud­ing the clin­i­cal death cer­tifi­cate, which is needed to of­fi­cially reg­is­ter the death and doc­u­ments its cause.

Rel­a­tives take this to the Regis­trar’s Of­fice at Hilling­don Civic Cen­tre,

The be­reave­ment team also make fu­neral ar­range­ments and help put the de­ceased’s es­tate in or­der if there is no next of kin.

“This in­cludes in­form­ing the bank and util­ity com­pa­nies.

They also en­sure the nec­es­sary pa­per­work is com­pleted if the body has to be flown home from the UK.

Anne says: “When I first started work­ing here I used to have to go to the de­ceased’s homes to look for doc­u­men­ta­tion.

“On one oc­ca­sion, I went to a house where the weeds where grow­ing up to the first-floor win­dows.

“The woman had been a recluse from the state of the prop­erty, but amid all the rub­bish was the most beau­ti­ful an­tique fur­ni­ture.

“I found


large cup­board full of rolled bank notes of var­i­ous cur­ren­cies to­gether with lots of un­signed cheques. We dis­cov­ered she had be­longed to a wealthy fam­ily.”

There are heart­en­ing sto­ries among the sad­ness, in­clud­ing that of a 97-year-old man who re­cently drove all the way from Southamp­ton to col­lect his 90-year-old brother’s be­long­ings.

Anne says: “He was a lovely man and just wanted to do the right thing, de­spite his age.

“We had a nice chat and sorted all the pa­per­work out.

“It makes us feel good about what we do when we can make things eas­ier for peo­ple.

“Our mantra has al­ways been for rel­a­tives to leave our of­fice with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude that Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal al­ways does its best for peo­ple.”

n RE­WARD­ING JOB: Be­reave­ment of­fi­cers Gill McGuin­ness and Anne Jenkinson


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