A new service aimed at helping bereaved families cope following the death of a loved one was launched on Friday (September 15).
The Relatives Support Service will be operated by staff from Noble’s Hospital but will be housed nearby in an office at Hospice Isle of Man.
The charity stepped in to supply a room to accommodate the service, which has been established in memory of 14-year-old Jake Watson, who died last year following a severe asthma attack.
Jake’s mum, Leanna Watson, and family members attended the launch event, which was conducted by Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Health and Social Care Michaela Morris and Hospice Chief Executive Anne Mills.
Mrs Watson played a key role in establishing the service after highlighting to the senior management team at Noble’s Hospital how she felt isolated after losing her son in September last year and did not know where to turn with regard to funeral arrangements or bereavement counselling.
Mrs Watson said: ‘After Jake died, the staff at the hospital were brilliant but there was a real gap in what to do next. I ended up turning to the yellow pages as there was just not enough direction. If you’ve not been through the experience of losing a loved one, then how will you know?’
The hospital management team pledged to look into establishing the Relatives Support Service but struggled to identify an appropriate venue for it to be housed within the hospital building. After being made aware of the issue, Hospice Isle of Man Chief Executive Anne Mills and Clinical Director Dr Ben Harris were pleased to offer the use of a room at the charity’s premises on the hospital estate during a meeting in July.
The service will be run by staff from the hospital’s mortuary team on an appointment system, and will allow possessions to be returned, paperwork to be completed and access routes to counselling made available as part of the liaison service.
Ian Hughes, Mortuary Manager, said: ‘Bereavement is an extremely difficult and traumatic time for families. The new Relatives Support Service will provide a central point of contact for relatives as well as healthcare professionals.
‘Following meetings with Mrs Watson it has been a pleasure to enter into partnership with Hospice Isle of Man to make this service an essential part of our ongoing duty of care to patients and their families.’
Speaking at Friday’s launch event at Hospice IoM, Mrs Mills said: ‘Leanna bravely spoke about her experience of what happened following Jake’s death as she felt there must be a better way to feel supported in order to cope with the many things to organise following the death of a loved one.
‘People listened and responded to her suggestions, which led to hospital managers contacting us for a meeting. Dr Harris and I immediately knew we could help and our board of governors unanimously agreed.
‘This is collaboration at it’s very best - two organisations working together to do the right thing by the people they serve.’
A charity set up by Mrs Watson aimed at helping bereaved families, Applause For Jake Watson, will provide financial assistance to the new service as well as helping to raise awareness of the support more widely available to families in the Isle of Man.
The service is due to open on October 2. For more information, call the Relatives Support Service team on 650615.
Photo - The Watson family and supporters pictured with representatives from Noble’s Hospital and staff and volunteers from Hospice Isle of Man at the launch of the Relatives Support Service.