Death and bereavement

Resources to support health and social care practitioners with care and communication at the time of and after a death. Some of the items listed were launched pre COVID-19; however, many of the points will still be very relevant for practitioners in the current situation

Please note that this page does not provide information for those who are bereaved themselves. For this, consider visiting NHS Inform, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland or Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief.

The following topics appear on this page:

Communication around the time of death

As a health or social care professional, talking to families around the time of a person’s death may feel daunting, especially if it is not something that you are used to doing on a regular basis or if you are doing it in different or unusual circumstances.

Below are some short animated film resources which may help to increase your confidence in communication around the time of a death and in your interactions with those who are bereaved. Please note that these were all launched before the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore some elements may now not be appropriate for the current situation within health and care settings, however many of the key points will still be of relevance for practitioners.

Withdrawal of active treatment in an intensive care setting

Click here to view a summary of the key points from the film.

Discussing dying

Click here to view a summary of the key points from the film.

Delivering the news of a death by telephone

Click here to view a summary of the key points from the film.

Talking and being with people who are bereaved

Click here to view a summary of the key points from the film.

Talking to children who are bereaved

Click here to view a summary of the key points from the film.

Delivering Bad News COVID-19 Update

A film from the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Visit the Support around Death website to watch the full suite of short bereavement-related films from NHS Education for Scotland, e.g. on supporting families around the time of a resuscitation, discussing post mortem examinations or dealing with sudden or unexplained deaths.

Confirmation of death

These resources are intended as learning materials to support local training and preparation of practitioners undertaking the procedure to confirm death in any circumstance. They were developed by the national expert working group led by NHS Education for Scotland to support the implementation of the Scottish Government Confirmation of Death by registered healthcare professionals in Scotland- a framework for implementation of DL(2017)9

Practitioners may also use these resources to enhance and develop their knowledge, skills and ongoing practice. 

Whilst these resources are relevant to the care of people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, practitioners must adhere to the up to date infection prevention and control measures which includes personal protective equipment (PPE). This can be found here

The above statement must be included in any local training.

Guidance and supporting resources for practitioners undertaking the Confirmation of Death procedure in Scotland:

This resource contains

  • Confirmation of Death recording template
  • Guidance to support registers healthcare professionals (practitioners) completing the recording template with links to key resources and organisations
  • Frequently Asked Questions on the confirmation of death procedure
  • Example local policy for Confirmation of Death (NHS Tayside) and Competencies for confirmation of death (NHS Tayside). 

Demonstration of the Confirmation of Death procedure in Scotland:

This short film shows a practitioner undertaking the essential clinical examination procedure required to confirm death in Scotland.  It also includes an outline of the responsibilities of the practitioner in relation to communication, documentation and referral.

As stated previously, practitioners involved in the care of people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, must adhere to the up to date infection prevention and control measures which includes personal protective equipment (PPE) when undertaking the procedure to confirm death. This can be found here

Further information and resources on confirmation of death can be found on the NHS Education for Scotland Support around Death website

Death certification
MCCD logo

 

Death certification serves both legal and health functions. A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is a statutory requirement. It provides a permanent legal record of a death and a record of causes of death for public health reasons. It also enables a family to register a death and arrange a funeral.

Important information and changes regarding death certification during COVID-19:

  • Completing MCCDs

Click here to view new guidance for doctors completing MCCDs for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Scotland.

If you have any questions about MCCD completion or death certification, please contact the Death Certification Review Service (Healthcare Improvement Scotland) on 0800 123 1898 or dcrs@nhs24.scot.nhs.uk.

  • Electronic transfer of MCCDs from Health Services to Registrars and Next of Kin

Click here to view Scottish Government guidance on electronic transfer of MCCDs (27 May 2020), featuring instructions and flowcharts for processes as they relate to:

  • Primary Care (Annex A, pages 2-3)
  • Secondary Care and Primary Care Out of Hours Services (Annex B, pages 4-6)
  • Hospices (Annex C, pages 7-8)
     
  • Updated Guidance to Medical Practitioners for Death Certification from the Chief Medical Officer

Click here to read a joint letter 'Updated Guidance to Medical Practitioners for Death Certification during the COVID-19 Pandemic' circulated by Scottish Government (20 May 2020).

For more information and learning resources for certifying and non-certifying staff on death certification (not specific to COVID-19) please click here.

Registration of death

Information and updates on the registration of death in Scotland, and how the process has changed in view of COVID-19 e.g. including remote registrations, can be found on the National Records of Scotland website.

Staff wellbeing

Supporting staff to TALK:

'TALK' (Tell, Ask, Listen, Kindness) is an acronym, designed to help health and social care professionals cope with death and bereavement. This short animated film encourages staff to support each other with simple strategies such as talking to your colleagues, asking how your team are doing, listening to one another and showing kindness to yourself and others.

          

 

 

Click here to view a pdf of this leaflet that accompanies the film.

For more information and key resources on psychosocial mental health and wellbeing support, click here to visit the psychosocial mental health and wellbeing support COVID-19 Turas section.

Bereavement in the workplace

Sadly, many of us may come across situations at work where a staff member is bereaved or perhaps experience the death of a colleague. Knowing what to say and do in these situations to provide support to employees and co-workers can be challenging and naturally people may feel apprehensive.

NES has launched two new resources that are designed to help managers identify some responses and actions to support bereaved employees, colleagues, teams and themselves in the workplace. The materials include key points that are relevant to all situations, as well as more specific points that may apply during the COVID-19 pandemic:

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Experiencing the death of a colleague: key points for staff, teams and managers

For more information or to access a print-friendly version of these resources please visit the Support around Death website.

Other sources of information

 

 

This provides information and educational resources for health and social care professionals related to care before, around the time of and after a death, including clinical and legislative information.