Unit 21 Supporting Significant Life Events

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The aim of this unit is to enable learners to investigate the support available for those experiencing significant life events and the effectiveness of service responses in supporting such individuals.

Unit abstract

In this unit learners will investigate how individuals may be supported through expected and unexpected transitions associated with the human life cycle and with adjustment to change such as entering, moving within, or leaving a health and social care service. The responsibilities of ensuring that a service is responsive to the needs of individuals experiencing trauma and loss will be discussed. Learners will look at ways in which health and social care services may contribute to the maintenance of dignity and self-image for those experiencing trauma and loss. Learners will also explore how staff working with individuals experiencing significant life events may also be supported. This unit is recommended for those learners who have had experience of managing health and social care services.

Learning outcomes

1 Understand how significant life events impact on individuals and their social networks

  • Life events: events and transitions associated with life stages (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age, dying); physical, social, psychological changes relating to eg lifestyle, relationships, health, illness, disability, economic circumstances, cultural difference.
  • Impact: psychological eg depression, emotional stress; physical eg reduced mobility, loss of function; social eg behavioural, detachment
  • Groups: life partnerships, family, friends, communities; care workers, colleagues; users of health and social care services.

2 Understand the support available for individuals experiencing significant life events

  • Support received from: family, friends, groups, communities; other users of health and social care services, care workers
  • Support: based on policies and procedures eg confidentiality, bereavement, accessing specialist services
  • External sources of support: specialists within the health and social care sector and the framework within which they work; support therapies eg counselling, aromatherapy; cultural, faith communities; agencies eg the Deaf Society, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the Dementia Association; information and advice eg financial, legal

3 Be able to analyse responses made by health and social care services to support individuals experiencing significant life events

  • Organisational responses: applying policies and procedures; critical incident responses; routines; support for those in social networks; respect for rituals; adaptations to service eg equipment; personal care
  • Personal experiences: in the workplace, other experience (at the discretion of individual learners) sufficient to recognise place of learner self-awareness in relation to supporting others
  • Recommendations: for improvement to support eg for policies, procedures, organisational
  • culture, management style, accommodation and facilities.


  • Dearnaley, P. 2014, "Competitive advantage in the new social care marketplace: a new theoretical perspective", Housing, Care and Support, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 5-15.
  • McAuley, J. 2012, "Volunteering to save lives", Thepractisingmidwife, vol. 15, no. 11, pp. 29.


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