Bereavement Care Standards

The creation of the Bereavement Care Standards: UK Project (2001) was seen as a landmark event. Their publication consolidated a large amount of work that had been undertaken over a number of years. It was expected that these would then be implemented and used to have an impact on services for bereaved people. But for a variety of reasons, it has been difficult to ascertain exactly whether and how widely they have been used.

In 2007, a Department of Health grant was awarded for the Bereavement Care Pathways Project: a partnership initiative between Cruse Bereavement Care (Cruse) and the Bereavement Services Association (BSA), which looked at bridging the gap′ experienced by bereaved people between bereavement services in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Grief is a natural process and this project highlighted that support can be effectively provided in different settings and in a range of ways, to meet diverse needs over time.Following on from that project, a further grant from the Department of Health was awarded to Cruse and BSA for a project entitled the Gold Standard Bereavement Care Project′, aiming to build on the foundations of the earlier work in a number of ways, including the revision of existing standards for bereavement care.

These new standards have been developed through:

  • The work of the Gold Standard Bereavement Care Project′ steering group
  • A national stakeholder event, bringing together representatives from statutory, voluntary and commercial sectors
  • A review of existing literature
  • Consulting a range of key people in the field and then members of the National Bereavement Alliance

The new standards aim to set out what areas need to be addressed in order for services to be both safe and effective in meeting the needs of bereaved people. They apply to all services providing bereavement support in any sector (hospital, hospice, community, commercial and bereavement support organisations including peer support groups),providing a practical tool against which to benchmark what they offer, as well as service development planning and improvement. Implicit in them is acknowledgement of the variety of ways in which support can be provided to bereaved people at various points on the bereavement pathway.

It is hoped that this current update of the standards will provide a framework against which organisations can appraise, develop and improve their services.

First it is important to understand where these new national standards for bereavement care services will fit within a larger framework.

The New National Standards for Bereavement Care Services:-

  • Set the criteria for what clients, carers, staff and volunteers can expect from Bereavement care services.
  • They will facilitate the audit of Bereavement Care Services, and ensure equality and governance across different services.
  • They will enable quality control measures to be utilised within the field so that minimum standards′ become the accepted norm.
  • They will lead to a more integrated approach to the delivery of bereavement care, whilst at the same time being adaptable and responsive to the diversity of local services and individual needs.
  • They will provide a helpful benchmark for services to be compared across the country.

Download a copy of the standards here:

ACUTE HOSPITAL BEREAVEMENT SERVICES - Assessment Tool - Draft Document October 2014

The purpose of the Tool


1. Describe the essential and desirable components of an acute trust bereavement service

2. Provide a tool for bereavement services to assess the current calibre of their service against

what might be possible

3. Provide a tool to ensure consistency for trusts wishing to benchmark their services against

other trust

4. Assist bereavement services to map themselves against relevant standards

5. Enable trusts to provide an evidence base for the calibre of their service when tendering for

medical examiner′s officer services

Outside the scope of this document are:

1. Discussion of appropriate grading and remuneration for bereavement staff

2. Qualifications required to be able provide the type of bereavement services described

herein. This is deliberately omitted as bereavement services are currently provided by staff

with a wide variety of backgrounds including NHS clinical, scientific and administrative and

others from outside the NHS. To the best of our knowledge no research has been

undertaken which can demonstrate a qualitative difference between services provided by

staff of different backgrounds.

3. Detailed policies or procedures

Download a copy here: