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The AURORA@COVID19-EU project aim to develop training resources and facilitate the good practices and education of formal and informal agents related to death and dying in times of COVID-19 pandemic.

This strategic partnership proposal involves researchers and health professionals who directly intervene with the bereaved people in times of COVID-19 pandemic, from different European countries, such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Denmark, already integrated in networks of support in their respective health systems. Benefiting from their expertise related to death and dying during the COVID-19 pandemic and privileged access to vulnerable, bereaved people, these partners will create training manuals for different professionals (R1, R2, R3) to suppress the identified deficit of specialized training and skills regarding deaths and dying.

A piloting stage in the AURORA@COVID19-EU proposal will also be carried out to apply the main project results developed, in the form of local training events with direct and indirect agents and a multisite, clinical study for bereaved people to alleviate prolonged grief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, with the knowledge and input from this unified, articulated response, involving the training events, the clinical study and the community strategy dissemination, partners will develop a manual with Good Practice Guidelines for Bereaved people (R4).

This consortium is composed by 5 different EU partners, from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Denmark. A combination between public and private organizations involved in the training of professionals from a wide spectrum to deal with bereaved people will allow learning from the different cultural contexts and different levels of expertise in grief and bereavement support.

The following organizations are involved:

  1. University of Maia (ISMAI hosted by Maiêutica) – is a private university in the North of Portugal. UMAIA has an important research center in Psychology (UNIDEP), with several Erasmus+ project participations and coordination. Several studies in psychotherapy and clinical health have been conducted in UNIDEP since 2010)
  2. CHUSJ – Psychology Service from Hospital São João is a public university hospital in the North of Portugal. This service involves more than 20 clinical psychologists, with three specialized in grief and bereavement intervention and research, practicing in the Palliative Care Services provided by this institution. This service is one of the five Portuguese national reference centers in public health services, designated by the National Health Agency in Portugal (Direção Geral de Saúde), for the treatment of grief complicated reactions.
  3. Universidad Pontificia de Comillas – is a private university in Madrid, Spain, offering a university master’s degree program on clinical and health psychology. The team involved in this project has extensive clinical and research in psychotherapy and spirituality and work in a university counseling service, open to the Madrid community. Comillas University has had several Erasmus+ participations.
  4. University of Salento – is a young dynamic university in Lecce, Italy, which has grown rapidly in recent years, consolidating and reinforcing its role as the keystone of the local cultural and social system. It has a recently established university counseling service, open to the surrounding community.
  5. The Danish National Center for Grief (DNCG) – was founded in the year 2000. The DNCG has four offices around Denmark and is increasingly engaging and cooperating with the bereavement community internationally. It has already trained more than 4500 professionals in this area. The DNCG also undertakes clinical research, training and education for professionals across sectors and is responsible for establishing national clinical guidelines for grief intervention in Denmark.

This international Partnership for Cooperation will be better equipped to enhance compassionate communities (of health professionals, formal and informal agents) especially in Spain, Italy and Portugal, by more effectively disseminating the role that the community at large can have for bereavement support and providing flexible services for grief targeted to each group of bereaved people.


R1: Training Manual for Clinical Psychologists

Based on the expertise of the DNCG and adapting to the challenges addressed by the pandemic situation, will lead all partners in the production of this project result and subsequently host and provide a training course for clinical psychologists. This Training Manual and Training Course will support these trainees in the training of other clinical psychologists (in their local countries) to intervene with the high-risk group of bereaved people, who experience intense need of support and possible complicated grief reactions. A Piloting activity will also be carried out within this partnership in the form of a clinical intervention for bereaved people to assess the effectiveness of this intervention program to prevent and alleviate prolonged grief during the COVID-19 pandemic, that will be implemented in two countries – Portugal and Spain.

R2: Training Manual For Direct Agents

This output addresses a selective target group of non-mental health professionals and support provided by general practitioners, nursing homes, hospital professionals and pharmacists. This Training Manual For Direct Agents will be disseminated and used in a piloting phase of local professional trainings through 2-days, online training events for these professionals.
The professionals willing to receive this training will then be better prepared to intervene with bereaved target group 2 (moderate risk and medium need yet acute grieving) and also to assess and refer the high risk bereaved people to the appropriate services.

R3: Training Manual for indirect agents

This Training Manual for Indirect Agents it addresses the needs of informal support provided, non-formal caretakers, social gatekeepers, and family members, etc. This Training Manual will be disseminated and used in a piloting phase of local professional training through one day online training events.

R4: Good Practices Guidelines Manual

The Good Practices Guidelines Manual will gather the contributions of all partners and project results to reinforce good practices for grief and bereavement training and support according the three-tier public health model. It aims also to address the specific obstacles faced regarding training and practice dissemination and ways to overcome them.
Thus, it is important to enhance its complementary to the Training Manuals as an outcome regarding the reinforcement of the knowledge of all the participants. Moreover, the Good Practices Guidelines for bereaved people will be illustrative concerning the gathering of all outputs of the project, illustrating both good practices and problems, presented in a systematic and structured way, namely the need to foster an articulated, unified response to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in grief and bereavement issues and promoting more adaptive processes of reconstruction after a loss, in vulnerable, bereaved people in the countries involved and to enhance good practices in the professionals that enter in contact with the bereaved people.

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.