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Hospices can monitor their bereavement programs by taking the following steps, says Cendra Lynne, PhD, director of Grief.Net, an on-line resource for bereavement researchers and for those looking for bereavement support:
• Understand the population you serve. Based on ethnic and cultural characteristics, hospices must tweak their approaches based on beliefs and customs held by those the hospice serves.
• Survey survivors to get their feedback. Hospices should create a survey that measures survivor satisfaction with a number of key elements, such as support, access to counseling, and whether programs were effective. Lynne notes that responses to this survey will be more subjective than objective and thus not very scientific. Hospices may experience high satisfaction in nine out of 10 responses because support in such a difficult time will likely be perceived as positive. But the survey’s value is that it provides direct feedback from clients. "You’re not looking for objectivity," Lynne says. "You can’t define what is helpful by someone else’s standards. It has to be defined by the individual."
• Keep in touch with survivors. Traditionally, surveys do not garner a high response rate. This means it’s important to go back to survivors and asking them what could have been done better.
• Trust the instincts of your most experienced staff. "They already know a great deal," Lynne says. "They know if you are helping."