Grief, Loss and Bereavement in Aged Care

Grief, Loss and Bereavement in Aged Care


Grief and loss associated with deterioration and death for people using aged care services is an important issue for the sector. We need to consider how best to support older people at the end of life, their families and friends, and the staff who provide care.

In 2020, there were 161,300 deaths in Australia and two-thirds were among people aged 75 and over. Around half of these deaths were in hospital and thirty percent in residential aged care. Most people adapt to the death of a family member or friend over time and their grief is managed with support from friends, family, and community. But some people will experience worsening quality of life and may struggle to deal with complicated or prolonged grief. Grief and bereavement resources are available to support older people, families and friends, and the aged care workforce.

Understanding bereavement in aged

Grief can have significant impacts on individuals and on communities. Older people can feel pain associated with loss in their life including declining health, increasing dependence and the need to use aged care services including residential aged care. Families and carers can also anticipate and experience grief associated with these transition and changes.

Grief is also experienced with declining health, dying and bereavement. Older people and their families can be anxious and fearful about what is happening and approaching the end of life may also raise issues from earlier in their life.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated many of these issues with additional health risks and restrictions associated with public health orders.


Impacts on aged care workforce

Grief and bereavement not only affects older people and their families but the workforce providing care. Looking after people who are coming towards the end of their life can have an impact on how you act and feel.

Practising self-care can help you maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being so you can continue to care.

Staff working in aged care face specific challenges which may increase the risk of burnout. Staffing pressures, increasing demand for care, increasing complexity of care needs, family expectations, and risks of injury and abuse have all been seen as possible contributors to a workplace enabling burnout. Aged care organisations can also consider how they can prevent staff burnout and support workforce health. ARIIA has an aged care topic on Staff Burnout.

Preventing burnout. What the organisation can do. Increase job security, Address workplace stress, Foster supportive leaders and teams, Promote training and development, provide resources for high-quality care, Recognise and reward staff.


palliAGED has a series of resources to support those affected by grief and bereavement in aged care. There are also resources developed by CareSearch partner projects. 

Supporting families

Supporting workers

Grief Organisations

Read some of our Palliative Perspectives and partner blogs:

Page created 25 May 2023