Bereavement Counselling Service

The Bereavement Counselling Service (BCS) is a Plymouth based charity (registration number 1120156) which is partly funded by the CCG.

Established in 1990, we are a specialist service for those people who have suffered a traumatic loss and/or are showing signs of complex grief. We offer a psycho-therapeutic service for those clients who demonstrate a clinical need for our input.

Our mission

To assess patients who are referred to us by the medical profession, and provide counselling/therapy to those experiencing complex grief, who we consider will respond to specialist bereavement counselling.

To ensure that all counsellors working within the service are qualified and trained. In addition to counselling qualifications, all of our counsellors receive in-depth training specifically around traumatic loss and complex grief.

To be a preferred provider for GPs and Mental Health Professionals and to raise awareness of the effects of complex grief.

Scope

Those aged 18 or over with a GP in areas within the Western Locality CCG area.

Primary diagnosis: Complex grief reaction or sudden traumatic bereavement

We accept people who have suicidal thinking, mild self harm or neglect provided they are able to engage in the therapeutic process.

Out of scope

The BCS provides a psychotherapeutic service for those who have signs of complex grief. We also provide early intervention support for those who have suffered a traumatic bereavement. We are not an emergency service, we cannot provide telephone counselling and we are staffed by volunteers.

  • The BCS cannot work with those who are currently unstable or unable to engage in the counselling process.
  • People who have anger problems which are unrelated to their bereavement.
  • People with complex or severe mental health diagnosis.
  • People that present as a risk to others.
  • People who are receiving psychological therapies from another service.

Assessment

Signs and symptoms of complex grief

  • Complex grief can present in many ways, the following are some examples:
    • If patients pain is as intense after 6 months as in the beginning
    • If deep pining remains after a year
    • Suicidal ideation.
    • Where grief dominates the life with no respite in sight
    • Where life seems purposeless and health is jeopardised
    • Where radical changes in lifestyle present themselves, I.e. self-destructive behaviour
    • Lowered self esteem
    • Tormented with feelings of guilt/anger/unfinished business.
    • Where patients have shut down and are not grieving at all.

Traumatic bereavement

  • A traumatic bereavement can affect people in a variety of ways. They can be at risk of:
    • PTSD or PTSD like symptoms
    • Intrusive images cause negative impact on day to day living
    • Nightmares
    • Fear of sleep
    • Increased risk of depression.
    • Fear of disaster re-occurring can lead to agoraphobia and mental health issues.

When making a GP referral, it is essential to include the following:-

  • The clinical need for the referral. What symptoms of complex grief is the patient displaying?
  • Details about the bereavement, when it took place, the cause of death etc.
  • Current medication.

Please remember to include the patients telephone number, we contact the majority of new referrals via telephone.

Diagnosis

An assessment is carried out in the first instance. This will ascertain if the client is able to engage with our work and if they are demonstrating a need for our service.

If the client is taken on, they will be placed on our waiting list. A counsellor will be allocated as soon as one becomes available.

Red Flags

We do not operate an emergency service and our qualified counsellors are all volunteers.

Management

After making a referral, you retain overall clinical responsibility for monitoring the referred patient. Please put any necessary safeguards in place for example regular review appointments. Please also remain in contact with us as to any significant changes in the person's situation that might alter the urgency of the referral.

​Referral

Referral Criteria

We accept referrals from GPs or Mental Health Practitioners.

Please send referrals using the referral form and send these to bcs.referrals@nhs.net. Please include all relevant history, full details about the bereavement and the clinical need for the referral. Please include the patient's telephone number and NHS number, address etc.

Forms that do not have sufficient information in them can delay processing a referral.

When making a GP referral, it is essential to include the following:-

  • The clinical need for the referral. What symptoms of complex grief is the patient displaying?
  • Details about the bereavement, when it took place, the cause of death etc.
  • Current medication.

Please remember to include the patients telephone number, we contact the majority of new referrals via telephone.

If you are unsure about anything you can contact our office. There is normally someone in the office from 9.30 am to 3 pm. Messages will be taken in our absence.

The Bereavement Counselling Service

Falcon House

Eagle Road

Plymouth

PL7 5JY

Email: bcs.referrals@nhs.net

Telephone: 01752 349769

Referral Forms

Bereavement Counselling Service referral form

​Supporting Information

GP information

Bereavement Counselling Service

Patient Information

Bereavement Counselling Service

Long-term Condition Self-Management Programme

GPs and patients can refer to Improving Lives Plymouth for patient support with any long-term physical or low level mental health condition. The service helps people to better manage their condition and to achieve a better quality of life.

Pathway Group

This guideline has been signed off by the Western Locality on behalf of NEW Devon CCG.

Publication date: May 2017
Updated: December 2018

 

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