A new partnership between two professional associations has been established with an aim to improve counselling and support offered to people following a bereavement.
The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) and the National Counselling Society (NCS) have teamed up to develop a set of guidelines to ensure vulnerable people in a state of grief are able to access care more quickly and from trusted providers.
The move is aimed at helping the thousands of newly bereaved people each year who have to wait months for support either from the NHS or third sector providers.
Working in partnership with counselling specialist Professional Help, SAIF earlier this year launched SAIF Care, a free bereavement service for funeral directing businesses in membership of the association, which represents the UK’s independent funeral directors. More than 360 branches are now offering the service.
The new partnership between SAIF and the NCS builds on SAIF Care and will:
- Raise awareness of the benefits of timely and professional bereavement support and counselling
- Develop a set of guidelines to help funeral directors engage with professional counsellors and counselling services
- Raise awareness of SAIF Care amongst families who use a SAIF member funeral director
- Highlight opportunities for bereavement-specific training and CPD for both funeral directors and counsellors
Terry Tennens, chief executive of SAIF, said the new partnership with the NCS offered an “exciting opportunity” to make a difference to a significant number of people.
He said: “The partnership with the NCS is a logical next step for us following the establishment of SAIF Care in March this year. There’s a definite need to widen counselling support and one way to do this is to ensure funeral directors are able to sign-post bereaved people to appropriate counselling services.
“Strengthening the national network of bereavement counsellors will complement the services already offered through SAIF Care, whilst reducing waiting times and ensuring support is available from people who’ve undergone appropriate training and background checks.”
He added: “The training will also help hardworking funeral directors to self care, as it’s clear that increasing demand for bereavement support has the potential to place added pressure on staff in funeral homes.”
Vicky Parkinson, chief executive of the NCS, added that the partnership had the “potential to plug a significant gap in healthcare provision”.
She said: “Based on our experience, we have good reason to believe that hundreds of thousands of people each year are in need of bereavement counselling. Sadly, many of these are having to wait more than three months or more for support. This situation desperately needs to change and we’re confident that the partnership with SAIF will make a big difference.
“Over the coming months, we’ll be drawing up a new training programme for people interested in developing basic counselling skills to help support bereavement care. This will allow caring funeral professionals to enhance their service to families which in many parts of the country is missing, providing signposting to qualified counsellors on the NCS register when needed.”
The NCS was set up in 1999 by a group of counsellors, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and psychologists, and holds Accredited Register status with the Professional Standards Authority Accredited Register programme.
SAIF represents more than 900 independent funeral directors across the length and breadth of the UK. SAIF Care offers families a range of counselling support, including phone and email consultations and up to six face-to-face sessions.
Professional Help was established in 2012 by Catherine Betley, who has more than 20 years’ experience in managing counselling organisations across the UK. The organisation works to widen access to emotional support for employees in both private and public sectors.