University of Chichester to host conference exploring death, bereavement and learning disability

The loss of a loved one is a devastating life experience for anyone but for the 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability it is additionally bewildering, frightening, and upsetting.

It is important that the wide range of professionals who support people with learning disabilities have the tools and understanding to help and advise when death and bereavement hits. This is why the University of Chichester, in conjunction with St Wilfrid’s Hospice, is to host an information-giving and networking day: Facing Death and Afterwards – People with Learning Disabilities.

The event, which is sponsored by funeral directors Dillistone, and Wraight and Reynolds, will take place at the University’s Bognor Regis campus on Wednesday 3 October, between 10am and 4pm. In a series of presentations and workshops, the event will cover topics as diverse as the practicalities of breaking bad news, advanced care planning, spirituality, planning a funeral and discussing feelings.

Two of the UK’s leading authorities on bereavement and learning disability will deliver keynote addresses. Linda McEnhill is CEO of Ardgowan Hospice in Greenock and has worked in palliative and bereavement care for 25 years.

With colleagues she established the National Network for Palliative Care of People with Learning Disabilities, for which she was awarded the first Hambro-Macmillan Associate Fellowship. She has published a number of articles and book chapters on the issues of dying and bereavement and their effect on people with a learning disability.

Irene Tuffrey-Wijne is Associate Professor in Intellectual Disability and Palliative Care at St George’s University and Kingston University, and has close collaborative links with Maastricht University. Irene’s research around people with intellectual disabilities and death covers areas such as cancer, breaking bad news and the extent to which care professionals discuss dying with the people they support.

Irene is active in the National Network for Palliative Care of People with Learning Disabilities and chairs the Reference Group of Intellectual Disabilities of the European Association of Palliative Care.

The event is being organised by Marie Price, below, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Childhood, Social Work and Social Care at the University of Chichester.

She said: “This is the second in a series of events focusing on death and bereavement and their impact on specific groups in society. Addressing the issue of working with people with learning or intellectual disabilities facing death is topical and long overdue.

“We are delighted to be working with St Wilfrid’s Hospice on this event, and to have secured two such well-respected keynote speakers in Linda McEnhill and Irene Tuffrey-Wijne. We firmly believe that we have created a ‘must-attend’ event for professionals who work with people with learning or intellectual disabilities.”

Attendance costs £60, or £50 for charities and concessions, which includes lunch, and can be booked at There is an early bird discount price of £50 or £40 respectively for those who book before 31 August 2018.

To find out more about the conference email Marie Price at: [email protected].

Pciture (c) Maria Riese.