The purpose of this Code is to establish and maintain standards for Kilkenny Bereavement Support Volunteers and thus to protect the members of the public who use the bereavement support services.

 Kilkenny Bereavement Support volunteers in assenting to this Code of Ethics accept responsibility to clients, and to the community at large. The Code of Ethics outlines how bereavement support volunteers implement the principles embodied in the Code of Ethics and maintain certain standards. Therefore, this Code is a guiding document for Kilkenny Bereavement Support.

This code covers the nature of bereavement support services, issues of accountability and responsibility, issues of competence and its evaluation, case-management and its supervision, and confidentiality.


Code of Ethics


  • The Nature of Bereavement Support Practice
    • The term “Bereavement Support Service” refers to the work carried out by Kilkenny Bereavement Support volunteers for those who have lost a loved one through death or who are caring for those suffering from a terminal illness.
    • The bereavement support volunteer seeks to provide support for bereaved individuals, couples, families and/or groups and to facilitate their grieving in a safe and secure ambience.
    • Maintaining good standards as a bereavement support volunteer involves continuing self-evaluation and a commitment to the core standards articulated in this Code.
    • Any client is a client of the Service and is never understood to be a personal or private client of a bereavement support volunteer. As such, bereavement support volunteers remain accountable to the Service for all work undertaken as Kilkenny Bereavement Support workers.
  • Issues of Accountability and Responsibility 
    • The bereavement support volunteer works within the context of accountability and responsibility to bereaved clients and to Kilkenny Bereavement Support.
    • Bereavement support volunteers are accountable and responsible for the observation of the principles embodied in this Code as well as any other bereavement support practices adopted within the Service.
    • Bereavement support volunteers will respect the dignity and worth of every human being, their ultimate right to self-determination, and their ability to make decisions and changes in the light of their own beliefs and values. Bereavement support volunteers will at the same time, show due regard for the interests of others.
    • Bereavement support volunteers accept responsibility for setting up and monitoring the boundaries between a bereavement support relationship and other relationships, being careful to guard against dual relationships. In this they undertake, where possible, never to initiate or sustain contact with clients outside of the Service either during or after work with them.
    • Bereavement support volunteers understand that their attitude toward the clients must be essentially non-judgemental in nature and that they will not utilise their position as bereavement support volunteers to direct, coerce, or to otherwise manipulate clients.
    • Bereavement support volunteers understand that the Service does not discriminate against or refuse bereavement support to anyone on the basis of economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
    • Bereavement support volunteers are responsible for ensuring that the satisfaction of their own emotional needs are not dependent on their relationship with clients.
  • Bereavement support volunteers recognise the trust placed in them and the unique power of the bereavement support relationship. They will not exploit the trust or possible dependency or clients. All forms of sexual behaviour or harassment with current or former clients are unethical.
  • Issues of Competence 
    • On accepting to meet a bereaved person, the volunteer must make contact with that person within two days of receiving the information, make an appointment to meet the person within 7 days and confirm with the director of services that contact has been made.
    • Having undertaken a basic training course in bereavement support skills, bereavement support volunteers commit to participation in on-going training provided by or approved by the Service.
    • Bereavement support volunteers adhere fully to the record-keeping, case-management, and supervisory practices within the Service and agree to participate in consultation or supervision as recommended by the Service.
    • Supervision is an essential part of the work of a bereavement support volunteer. It is a learning process where a volunteer engages with an experienced practitioner in a small group, in order to enhance skills. This in turn protects and guards the well-being of the client and worker. Volunteers must attend the monthly supervision meetings whether they have a client or not.
    • “Supervision” may also involve case-consultation with the Director of Services of the bereavement support service.
    • If bereavement support volunteers withdraw from bereavement support for more than 12 months, they will need to undergo some form of training in order to re-establish their competence. Likewise, if a worker misses 3 consecutive supervision meetings, they will be required to engage in a refreshment activity. They will be guided in this matter by the Director of Services or his/her nominee.
    • The Service has a responsibility to clients and the community at large to maintain and monitor the standards of service delivered by bereavement support volunteers within the Service.

Code of Practice


This Code of Practice is intended to provide more specific information and guidance in the implementation of the principles embodied in the Code of Ethics.

  • Relationships with Clients and Case-Management
    • Bereavement support volunteers should inform clients as appropriate about their training, areas of competence, and the principles of bereavement support.
    • Before bereavement support begins bereavement support volunteers should explore clients’ expectations and reach a mutual understanding about the purpose, nature and approximate length of any work undertaken.
    • Bereavement support volunteers will not accept personal payment from clients for work undertaken by the service.
    • Bereavement support volunteers are free to facilitate a donation by clients to the Service.
    • Bereavement support volunteers should take due regard to the limitations of their competence, and should facilitate an appropriate referral when necessary. In consultation with their supervisor, they will be guided in deciding when to refer on to a professional service and how to do this.
    • Bereavement support volunteers should work with clients to terminate bereavement support when the clients have received the help they sought, or when it is apparent that bereavement support is no longer helping them.
    • Bereavement support volunteers should not abandon or neglect clients. If unable or unwilling for appropriate reasons to continue bereavement support with a client, bereavement support volunteers should, with the approval of the client, arrange for the continuation of bereavement support with a colleague or other suitable persons.
    • Bereavement support volunteers should not intentionally meet with clients outside of the Service either for bereavement support or other purposes, not should they invite clients to contact them by telephone outside of the Service. Kilkenny Bereavement Support will make the arrangements for the volunteer to make contact with bereaved individuals.
    • Bereavement support volunteers should not undertake bereavement support of relatives or friends.
  • Evaluation and Maintenance of Competence
    • Bereavement support volunteers allow all bereavement support work to be monitored through the case-management and supervisory systems of the Service. This involves keeping up-to-date and accurate case-notes, accepting or seeking professional consultation where appropriate, participating in supervision, and being accountable for what is done and why.
    • Bereavement support volunteers participate in a regular and formal evaluation procedure within the Service every two years. This evaluation determines the ability of the bereavement support worker to renew their contract with the Service. In this, bereavement support volunteers accept the necessity of receiving feedback on the standard of their work as well as participating in a process of self-evaluation.
    • Bereavement support volunteers assume the responsibility to know within themselves and to accept feedback that indicates when their personal commitment or resources are such that it is necessary for them to withdraw from bereavement support, whether temporarily or permanently.

Privilege and Confidentiality


Confidentiality is a central and integral part of the work of Kilkenny Bereavement Support. It provides safety and privacy for those who use our services. We work hard to ensure that information by those who make contact with and/or use our services is held in strict confidence and in a manner that is in line with Data Protection legislation.


  • Bereavement Support volunteers and the Service staff will treat with strict confidence personal information about clients, whether obtained directly or indirectly or by inference. All records kept on a client will be handled with utmost care.
  • “Treating with confidence” means not revealing any information disclosed by the client to any persons other than those to whom the bereavement support volunteer is accountable for their work within the Service. In all situations the bereavement support volunteer should be discreet and respectful of client information.
  • In cases where the client is a serious threat to him/herself or to others, or where the client reveals clear evidence of child abuse, or where a child/young person may be at risk of harm or abuse, the bereavement support volunteer and the Director of Services may take appropriate action in certain circumstances to advise individuals or authorities. With regard to these situations, the bereavement support volunteer will inform clients of this limitation to confidentiality. Before commencing work with the Service, all clients sign a form (Form 1) indicating this limit to confidentiality.
  • Bereavement support volunteers understand the principle of “privilege” and the right of the Service and bereavement support volunteers to decline to disclose information relating to the client, to any outside persons including solicitors and other professionals. At the same time, it is understood that a bereavement support volunteer may be subpoenaed to appear in court under the due process of Law.
  • With the exception of the above, bereavement support volunteers should not disclose information to outside persons without the expressed written permission of the client.
  • Any discussion of clients with others should be purposeful and not trivialising.
  • See: Kilkenny Bereavement Support “Data Protection and Confidentiality Policy”.
  • Public Statements and Profile
    • Unless appointed to do so, bereavement support volunteers will not put themselves forward as spokespersons for the Service, nor disclose to persons outside the Service confidential procedures within the Service. Bereavement support volunteers should be discreet about their involvement with the Service.
  • Moral Guidance and Judgement
    • Bereavement support volunteers will show sensitive regard for the moral, religious and social standards of others. They will not use their position to impose their beliefs on others or seek to persuade clients to adopt a particular set of values or teachings.
    • Bereavement support volunteers should never judgementally undermine the moral or civic values of the client and at all times will strive toward creating a respectful context within which clients can make their own life choices.