Bereavement & End of Life Support (Companion Animal)

This Bereavement and End of Life Support course relates to the care that teams in veterinary practices frequently provide for their clients at the end of their animals’ lives.
This course is appropriate for anyone who supports or deals with clients during this difficult time. The content, whilst written to accommodate non-clinical staff, is suitable for all members of the veterinary team.

The first module sets the scene for the course and will provide an overview of the content and requirements. 

Module 2 looks at the Human-Animal Bond, considering the importance of it for both the human and the animal and the benefits each receives from it.  This module explores the different intensities of owner-pet relationships including the relationship with Working or Assistance animals and betweeen animals and children. 

Module 3 looks at the psychology of grief beginning with its relationship to the 5 core emotions before looking at the different stages of grief, the emotional components of grief, the different types of grief and the outward manifestations of grief. 

Module 4 covers the time leading up to the death of an animal, focusing on providing care and support to clients as they perhaps struggle with the decision to put their much-loved pet to sleep or to come to terms with the fact that their animal’s life is ending.  It covers ways that we can help clients assess their animal’s quality of life in a more objective way which can be useful if they are finding it hard to know when the time has come to say goodbye. 

Module 5 is about Preparing for Euthanasia.  The process of euthanasia is described in detail, including the possible reactions that are sometimes seen and which aren’t necessarily predictable.  Understanding all this will mean that you will be able to explain it to owners, confidently but sympathetically, if necessary. 

Module 6 is about Bereavement Support in terms of the immediate support that you can offer to clients at the time of the death of their animal, considering helpful and appropriate ways to manage clients that become particularly distressed.  It also covers how the support offered at the point of loss may be slightly different from what may be better provided later on and discuss how you might consider setting up and offering a full Bereavement Support Service as well

Module 7 focuses on how an owner’s age or situation can affect the grief that they experience and the support that we provide.  It looks at how children are affected by the loss of an animal, considering the influence that their age and maturity may have on their understanding of the situation, providing useful guidance to help parents support their children through the grieving process. 

Module 8 looks at how the circumstances relating to the nature of the loss of an animal can influence grieving and the emotions we may see, covering those particularly distressing situations such as sudden or unexpected death, the death of an animal whilst it is receiving treatment at the veterinary practice and where euthanasia can be considered to be ‘forced’, for example as a consequence of financial constraints, behaviour problems, the death of an owner, a house move or welfare cases. 

Module 9 is all about problems that could arise and how to manage when things are difficult, including situations such as owners being in conflict over the decision to euthanase a pet, the potential fallout from the euthanasia consultation not going well, the awkward conversations around, confusion about how the body was to be dealt with and, shall we say, missing ashes or perhaps, dealing with complaints about how the euthanasia or death of an animal registered and usually cared for at your practice was handled elsewhere (for example an out of hours clinic or a specialist centre). 

The 10th module is all about Looking after Yourself and your own wellbeing.  Helping support owners and also potentially your colleagues at times of sadness around the death of animals can be hard and it is important that those providing the support are not adversely affected by it.  This module will cover topics such as emotional intelligence and Compassion Fatigue – what it is, how to recognise it and how to recover from it.

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BVRA Member Price: £100.00 + VAT | Non Member Price: £150.00 + VAT

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