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Co-design approaches to establishing a bereavement peer-support program at a Children’s Hospice

Oral Presentation

October 13th 2022 at 3:45pm

Institution: Hummingbird House - QLD, Australia

The Hummingbird House is the only paediatric hospice service in Queensland. In 2021, the Family Support Team secured funding to develop a pilot peer support program, which was co-designed with bereaved parents and a partnership with Thanatology expert Leigh Donovan.
A Hospice Social Worker aimed to co-design and co-author a pilot peer support program (The Companion Program). The program was to be co-designed with bereaved parents, drawing on international best practice of peer support frameworks, with a view to being embedded in future hospice service delivery which could be delivered state-wide, via telehealth.
Co-design methodology, a partnership between bereaved parents and program leads, informed creation of Hummingbird House Companion Program which was adopted to a children’s hospice context from existing models of Peer Support. The program included training materials, a supervision framework and family support engagements. The program was heavily informed by the findings of a 2020 Churchill Fellowship on best paediatric hospital bereavement care services; consultation with the Australian Centre for Social Innovation; and drew on a compassionate-bereavement framework (ATTENDmodel - Dr. Joanne Cacciatore).
The Hummingbird House Pilot Companion Program will run for 6months (launched in February 2022 with six bereaved parents completing training, program delivery, peer supervision sessions and support from project staff. The pilot evaluation will take place in August 2022. At the time of proposed presentation, Co-authors will be able to provide the results of pilot program and evaluation themes.
Peer support (ie: companion) relationships create a space for shared understanding between bereaved individuals in a unique way. They offer a space to normalise grief and ‘mutual recognition’ beyond what can be gained from non-bereaved friends or professional service providers. Peer support frameworks also encourage sustainable approaches to service delivery which will be highlighted in this presentation.


  • Dr Leigh Donovan

    Consultant in Thanatology - Collaboraide

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  • Ms. Taki Langlasse

    Family & Community Support Practitioner - Hummingbird House

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