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Pets ease pain of bereavement
[Posted: Mon 26/11/2007 www.irishhealth.com]
Pets can be more comfort to the bereaved than priests or professional counsellors, according to new Irish research.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin examined the Bereavement Care Service at Beaumont Hospital. In 2001 Beaumont pioneered such a service with its creation of the post of bereavement co-ordinator.
The TCD study found that one in three bereaved people find family members are of comfort when the death occurs. For a quarter, friends played a useful role. Pets ranked ahead of priests, spiritual advisers, and other 'professionals' in helping people cope.
Martin McCormack, head of social work at Beaumont, said on average for every person who died 10 other people were deeply and directly affected.
Around 1,000 people a year die in Beaumont, which has many brain injury and neurosurgery patients. In total around 18,000 people die in Irish hospitals each year.
The bereavement approach at Beaumont was described as 'a true innovation' by the TCD team.
Its method was developed by Siobhan O'Driscoll and is now known as the O'Driscoll Model of Bereavement Care.
The Beaumont Bereavement Service writes to those who have been bereaved 10 to 12 weeks after the death. Two thirds of people found this a comfort, and only 2% found it intrusive.
Women tended to welcome an intervention sooner in their grief than men.
The three major problems reported to the TCD researchers about bereavement in a hospital setting were: need for information; need for privacy; and overcrowding in accident & emergency departments.
The launch of the study into Beaumont comes at the same time as the HSE re-issues its most requested publication, Bereavement: when someone close dies.
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