COVID-19 Communication Support
Making Impossible Conversations Possible During the COVID-19 Pandemic
STEP BY STEP GUIDES FOR COMMUNICATING THE DEATH OF A RELATIVE
Please click on these links for free access:
Care Home Staff
Families - how to tell children that someone has died
All of our resources below are free to access and share, and have been translated into multiple languages.
In this unprecedented pandemic one of the most emotionally difficult challenges facing healthcare workers and carers is communicating the death of a relative to families. The absence of face-to-face interactions means that staff must undertake this painful task by telephone. Adults are then faced with the seemingly impossible task of telling the children within the family the devastating news that a loved one has died. Simultaneously, children are experiencing substantial changes to their daily routine and social infrastructure, which ordinarily foster resilience to challenging events. Current evidence shows that the quality of communication has a long-term impact on healthcare workers’ and families’ psychological and physical well-being, underlining the urgent need to ensure communication is effective.
Responding to these urgent needs, our team has developed a series of step-by-step guides and animations for healthcare workers, care staff and teachers. Crucially, these guides for staff include identifying if the person had an important relationship with children (such as a parent or grandparent), so that immediate advice can be offered to the family to help them with the unenviable task of sharing the news with children. This is supported by a second guide and animation for parents and guardians which can be emailed to the family, or accessed online.
Support for Schools
The team have developed a guide specifically for school staff, to whom children may turn to ask questions or share their experiences or worries about illness and bereavement during the last few months.
Support for Care Homes
Communication to Children
It is critical to highlight the importance of ensuring adult’s everyday communication with children reflects their developmental understanding and that adults are authentic about the uncertainty and psychological challenges of the pandemic.
In 2019, we led a Lancet series summarising the available evidence on communication with children about the diagnosis of their own life-threatening disease and about a life-threatening disease in a parent.
IN THE NEWS 2020
Barnardos (Nov 2020)
Children's Mental Health - Importance of Effective Communication
The New York Times (Sept 2020):
The Atlantic (June 2020):
BBC (June 2020):
Real Talk Training (May 2020):
Communicating the Diagnosis of Life Threatening Conditions to Children, Recent Guidance Specific to COVID-19
Dr Louise Dalton and Dr Elizabeth Rapa presented their work in May 2020.
COVID Conversations: Protecting Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health, with Professor Alan Stein in conversation with Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore.
This talk was broadcast on Wednesday 24th June 2020.
Questions and Feedback
If you have any questions about the resources provided, or require different formats/language versions please get in touch with a member of the team.
We would like to thank Dr Helen Griffiths, Dr Brenda Kelly, Dr Shaun Wilson, Dr Virginia Davies, Dr Sally Hope, Dr Matthew Hotton, Cecilia Hoegfeldt, Julia Ruiz Pozuelo, Helena Channon-Wells, Gemma Brock and Suzy Shepherd for their support, contributions and insight.
Generous funding for the staff animation was provided by Oxford Hospitals Charity