A New Text-Based Approach to Delivering Quality Bereavement Care (Conference Presentation)

Lunardini, M. & Levesque, D.

Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network
23 April 2023

Hospices are facing significant staff shortages and worker fatigue, both of which may impact quality of care. Staff shortages are especially problematic in the delivery of bereavement support. Hospice providers have been calling for innovative approaches to meet the demands for bereavement services. This presentation will report on grievers’ perceptions of the acceptability and helpfulness of Grief Coach (now Help Texts), an innovative, ongoing, expert, text-based grief support service aligned with a public health approach to bereavement care. The messages, grounded in contemporary models of grief and coping, provide support, information, and encourage engagement in adaptive coping behaviors. Participants in the evaluation were bereaved family members who received Grief Coach as a hospice benefit. Based on program administrative data, the 13-month program retention rate was 86%. Among subscribers who met inclusion criteria for and completed a brief evaluation (N=100, response rate = 65%), 73% rated the program as “Very helpful” and 74% rated it as contributing “A great deal” or “Considerably” to their sense of being supported in their grief. Older grievers (age 65+ years old) and males tended to give the highest ratings. In their written feedback, most respondents expressed their appreciation for the program (e.g., “Thanks for being there”) or listed something they liked or found helpful (e.g., “I don't feel as though I'm losing my mind anymore”) (Levesque et al., 2022). These preliminary data suggest that bereaved hospice family members find the Grief Coach text message program to be acceptable and helpful.