Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The death of a client

There are times when no matter how hard we work to ensure our clients receive a supportive and comprehensive services, it results in failure. 

Either the client is not ready for the changes, feels too much pressure or fear to succeed, can not comprehend any other life, or maybe we have been too keen and not listened to what they  really want. However, sometimes our clients die. When this happens unexpectedly, we find it can effect us in a variety of ways.

More recently I have known at least 6 of my team's clients to pass away. Some of them have been physically unwell, while most have died unexpectedly and sometimes in suspicious circumstances.

How do we cope with this? 

To be honest, there have been times when I have felt very little and these are the times I worry about myself and what I may have become as a person. Then I realise that humans interact with people differently. Where I may have little emotion for one person's death, I may become very emotional about another person's. It may depend on how involved in their care we have been, a general fondness for someone or some other kind of connection. The sadness we feel may be a result of how and where they died, maybe at their own hand, their chaotic lifestyle, their age or for some other reason.

If you have been working closely with someone for a period of time, it can be hard not to blame yourself in having some kind of hand in the death. Maybe you blame yourself for not focusing more attention on them and more one to one support, or maybe you accessed the accommodation where they later died.
I have come to learn that in this profession, we can only do so much and should never think we can save everyone we come in contact with. We usually have limited resources and many of us work with chaotic clients. There can be an ongoing battle between being  professional and being a caring person and I would hope that team members support each other in these circumstances and do not judge too hastily their colleagues reaction to a clients death.

The purpose of The Spike is to support each other, so please let us know how have you coped, or not coped with a clients death? What advice do you have for others in this situation?


  1. A link for the Homelessness Resource Center

  2. This article is so true. The death of a client affects those around them in many different ways as described. I am very lucky to be surrounded by a fantastic team who support each other brilliantly.

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