AAPT Council member Gemma Norburn RSciTech MAAPT reports on the Barts Health Bereavement Conference
The Barts Health Bereavement Conference is held each year to bring together those across the Trust involved in different areas to learn from each other about bereavement and death.
There is a different theme each year, this year being ‘Including Everyone – grief has no boundaries’. This was the first time I had attended, the event itself only opening recently to those from where I work due to our Trusts merging. I did not know what to expect but jumped at the opportunity to hear the range of talks available and meet new people.
The morning started with, after the initial introduction, a talk by Dr Irene Tuffery-Wijne who shared her experiences of working closely with those with learning difficulties who experience bereavement.
Irene discussed the approaches she had found useful and the ways in which not only discussing the death is needed, but so too is seeing the deceased and being able to say goodbye.
After a short coffee break, we then heard from Efrem Brynin who is the co-founder of the charity StrongMen which he established after suffering the death of his son and realising the lack of support specifically for men. Efrem not only provides support for men who are going through grief but also runs events such as Mount Snowden climbs for groups to get together and meet others while undergoing the challenges.
Before lunch, we had a most excellent talk by the wonderful Michael Rosen.
Michael is a familiar figure, having been Children’s Laureate and a brilliant children’s author, poet and presenter. Michael became very ill with COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic and was hospitalised. He was one of the patients who needed to be ventilated and nursed prone while in ITU for a number of weeks.
During this time, the staff kept a diary in which they would write what happened each day and Michael discussed how this made him feel but also read sections of it out with his unmatchable wit and hilarious facial expressions. How he coped with coming so close to death is admirable and how he uses humour to discuss it now is incredible.
The afternoon session started with Anna Bray discussing the Child Death Overview Process, an enlightening talk on what happens when a child dies and how this is dealt with officially and from an investigation point of view. After this, there was a Schwartz Round with a panel discussing the conflict between the culture or religion of a family with those of healthcare professionals.
This was a great introduction to Schwartz Rounds for those, like me, who had not previously seen one but also a hugely beneficial discussion between those on the panel about their own experiences with this conflict. Finally, the day ended with a short session held by Dr Esther Murray for everyone to stop and reflect on what we do to relax, and how we can recognise when we are stressed.
This was a fabulous way to end the day and the atmosphere lightened after some very intense and thought provoking subjects from the day.
Sadly, as mentioned above this event is only open to those within Barts Health Trust and BHRUT who they are collaborated with.
However, I hope that by sharing this experience with you it might inspire others to create events like this in other areas. A great deal can be learnt by sharing our experiences and learning with each other.
Gemma Norburn RSciTech MAAPT