Analysing the role played by district and community nurses in bereavement support

Br J Community Nurs. 2015 Jun;20(6):272-7. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2015.20.6.272.


This article explores bereavement support as one of the roles of the district nurse (DN) and community nurse (CN). Bereavement support is considered part of palliative care, which is a major role for all nurses. There is, however, a constant move to increase acute care in the home, questionably placing greater demand on DNs/CNs and primary care provision. Discussion in this article is framed around research into bereavement care in the community, existing guidelines, and policy drivers stressing its importance. Bereavement can result in depression, stress-related disorders, and high mortality; it is therefore imperative to understand the complexities, theoretical aspects, and implications of poor service provision. Palliative care is one of the primary roles of a DN, and it largely involves emotional support. It has been shown that DNs lack confidence and the skills to provide bereavement support to families and carers of palliative care patients. Education, training, and time management are the main determinants of effective bereavement support. The need is to develop a standard collaborative approach to bereavement support and incorporate it into the palliative care role of DNs.

Keywords: Bereavement; Case management; Grief; Palliative care nursing; Stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Hospice Care*
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nurses, Community Health* / education
  • Professional-Family Relations*