Our much-overworked NHS does not have the resources available to offer mass support for the bereaved but employers are in a prime position to step up and provide this instead, says RedArc during Dying Matters Week (14 – 20 May 2018).
Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc says: “Bereavement support is fairly straightforward for an employer to offer by virtue of the fact that a number of group insurance and benefit products often include this. It can be hugely beneficial to the employee and engender a strong sense of goodwill towards the sponsoring organisation.”
In the most comprehensive of offerings, the policyholder or their family do not even need to make a claim but can access support directly, whenever they need it, no matter who they are grieving for.
Long-term support is crucial
Whilst an employee may have returned to work following bereavement, it can be of great value to have regular contact from a trusted professional in these early stages, to help with immediate worries and concerns and be well placed to put formal therapy in place when the time is right. In many cases it is not until 3-6 months after the death that formal therapy will be truly beneficial, as many people are too raw for any course of treatment to help: grief is a very long-term process and support from family and friends often falls away within a few weeks or months of the funeral and people can feel isolated and abandoned. They often display mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks and poor sleep.
It is also often the case that one particular family member believes they need to ‘stay strong’ or ‘put on a brave face’ for their partner or their children and therefore they don’t have the opportunity to grieve properly themselves. In these situations, support is often required much further down the line.
Christine Husbands continues: “Employers will want to support the member of staff on a personal level but they will also need that individual to be productive within the workplace – offering support via an insurance product can tick both boxes. No employer can be expected to offer comprehensive bereavement support on their own and most employees prefer the privacy and expertise of a third party, outside the confines of their normal working environment.”
Types of support required
RedArc’s experience shows that the variety of support required is much more than ‘talking’ therapies. By accessing support from a third party, insurers can offer their policyholders and their families practical advice on a wide range of issues such as long-term care, sourcing respite care for a break, some help at home or mobility aids or home adaptations as well as sourcing other therapies such as massage or hypnotherapy (to help with relaxation and sleep).
Christine Husbands concludes: There is no set way to grieve and also no set way to recover – to work best, bereavement support need to be tailored to the individual and their specific circumstances.
“Employers looking to offer attract and retain staff could consider adding bereavement support to ensure their employee’s emotional and practical needs are also met in the event of a loss.”