09/01/2014 09:18 GMT | Updated 11/03/2014 05:59 GMT

More Must be Done to Support Bereaved People

Bereaved people across Britain are being failed by a lack of support including in the workplace, according to a new report published by the National Council for Palliative Care in partnership with the Dying Matters Coalition which it leads and the National Bereavement Alliance.

Every minute someone in Britain dies, and almost half of us report having been bereaved in the last five years. Yet society's response, often falls short - making it even harder for people to come to terms with the loss of someone close to them.

Life after death: six steps to improve support in bereavement' reveals survey data that shows almost a third of people who were bereaved in the last five years whilst in a job do not feel that their employer treated them with compassion.

Strikingly, despite an uncertain jobs market, the ComRes research also found that more than half of the 4,000 people surveyed said they would consider leaving their job if their employer did not provide proper support if someone close to them died. There also appears be a great deal of public backing for a more compassionate approach, with more than four in five people agreeing there should be a legal right to receive paid bereavement leave. Whilst some employers have excellent compassionate employment policies and are sympathetic and flexible to staff who have been bereaved, many others appear to be failing to show compassion or provide support.

As a priority, the report calls on all employers to ensure they have an updated bereavement policy, which sets out what support workers who have been bereaved are entitled to. They should also check if managers have any training needs to support staff who have been bereaved. We're also recommending that the Government commissions a national review of employment practice and bereavement, which explores the feasibility of minimum statutory bereavement leave and highlights good practice that employers could learn from.

It's not just in the workplace where bereaved people face a lack of support. There are also serious concerns about bereaved families being hit by the under-occupancy charge or "bedroom tax" just three months after the death of a family member as a result of the introduction of the Universal Credit system.

In response to the report's findings, the Dying Matters Coalition which aims to raise awareness about the importance of talking more openly about dying, death and bereavement, has announced the launch of 'Compassionate employers'. This is a new national initiative aimed at supporting businesses who want to improve their approach to end of life issues, including through improved support for people who have been bereaved, support for carers and training for managers and staff.

With an ageing population and demographic changes which mean that the number of people dying each year is set to increase, there's never been a more important time to get bereavement support and end of life care right.