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Short Course
Psychosocial Interventions in End-of-Life and Bereavement Care
Interventions in end-of-life and bereavement care require specific knowledge, skills and behaviour from professionals working in these fields. Loss, grief and bereavement are usually only very briefly attended to in undergraduate courses in South African tertiary institutions. Grief and loss are often underlying features of many clinical issues such as relationship problems, depression, isolation, anxiety and substance abuse. South Africa, with its cultural diversity, high crime rates and an increase in AIDS-related and non-communicable diseases, poses a great challenge to grief counsellors. End-of-life and bereavement intervention provides a sought-after specialisation in the clinical work of social workers, psychologists, pastoral workers and nurses. Loss and grief are universal experiences and this course will open doors to different avenues of practice such as individual and/or group counselling. There is a great need to understand the different cultural approaches to death and bereavement within the South African context and this course provides the foundation to assess and intervene appropriately. This short course has the potential for learners to learn from each other, both by sharing own experiences of loss, grief and bereavement, as well as by sharing good intervention practices with each other.

Purpose of the course:

The primary aim of this short learning programme is to equip professionals with essential knowledge of end-of-life and bereavement counselling and intervention by providing theoretical frameworks associated with the field of loss, grief and bereavement. At the same time, this course aims to develop skills in applying specific end-of-life and bereavement intervention techniques and to give an opportunity for participants to learn from each other.

Admission requirements:

Admission requirements: 
Degree or diploma in Behavioural sciences like Social Work and Psychology, Theology (Pastoral Care), Nursing, Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy or other allied health professions, South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) and Professional Board for Dietetics and Nutrition (Health Professions Council of South Africa) Access to a computer with a webcam, headphones and uninterrupted internet access.
Learning assumed to be in place: 
Basic counselling skills and work experience in the field of end-of-life and bereavement care. Computer literate and moderately skilled to use MS Office, the internet, e-mails, social media and Skype (or related communication systems).

Course outcomes and assessment criteria :

Course outcomes and the associated assessment criteria: 

Study Unit


Assessment Criteria

  After completion of this course, participants will: Participant will be assessed on the following criteria:
The student will demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of the nature and context of end-of-life and bereavement counselling
  • Define the concepts of loss, end-of- life care, death, grief, and bereavement
  • Evaluate the palliative care ethics and values associated with end-of-life and bereavement counselling
  • Critically analyse, compare and debate diverse cultural views on issues related to end-of-life care, death and bereavement counselling
  • Compare the theories and models of bereavement and the application thereof in the South African environment
  • Identify different cultural and spiritual rituals in end-of- life and bereavement care and come to a conclusion on the value of such rituals in bereavement counselling
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the components of end-of-life and bereavement counselling
  • Compile an age appropriate end-of-life and bereavement intervention plan for a simulated case scenario
  • Differentiate between normal grief and complicated grief
The student will develop and demonstrate specific skills required in end-of-life and bereavement interventions
  • Assess the needs of the dying person and his significant others
  • Assess the needs of the bereaved person and his significant others
  • Implement the components of end-of-life and bereavement counselling
  • Align client needs to specific intervention options by compiling an age appropriate end-of-life bereavement plan for a real client/patient
  • Implement and evaluate the intervention plan


A total of four assignments must be submitted as formative assessments which will contribute 50% towards the final mark. Must submit an e-portfolio as a summative assessment at the end of the short learning programme, which will then contribute towards the other 50% of the final mark.
Method of assessment: 
To be eligible for a certificate, students must attend 90% of all online classroom sessions, complete all formative and summative assessments and obtain a minimum mark of 50% for such assessments. Students who do not obtain a mark of 50% will be offered one opportunity to revise and resubmit all assignments.

Additional information

Mode of delivery: 
Target group: 
This course is aimed at registered social workers, psychologists, pastoral workers, professional nurses, medical practitioners, and other allied health professions who, in the line of their professional capacity, deal with clients (adults, adolescents, and children) challenged by death and bereavement.
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