RSL Care SA recently participated in a study by the Research Centre for Palliative Care Death and Dying at Flinders University that looked at exploring the bereavement care needs of South Australian family caregivers who had their loved ones living in residential aged care homes.

This study showed that bereavement, grief and loss affected families and residents across the aged care journey, not just after death. Everyone felt more information was needed and so Flinders University developed a booklet called When someone dies in residential aged care: Grief and loss for families. The booklet aims to support bereavement by providing information on what is likely to happen over time from entry into aged care through to the end of life.

Some of the key messages that came out of the study are:

Grief and loss can be felt at different times across the aged care journey. It is not only felt after death.

Having a family member enter aged care is a significant life change for the person and for the family. It is an emotionally challenging time.

Being prepared and having good communication can help reduce concerns and anxiety about the future.

Building relationships with the aged care staff can help you and the resident settle in.

Regardless of how prepared you feel, death is unexpected and can be a shock.

There are information and resources to help you make decisions and cope with change.

If you need help, there are services and supports available.


When someone dies: 

My Aged Care

Australian Grief and Bereavement Centre

CareSearch: Patients, carers, families