FINAL goodbyes between families and Covid-19 patients reaching the end of their life must be prioritised during the pandemic, a new landmark study says.

Researchers at the Universities of Oxford working with teams form Sheffield and Liverpool explored the impact of restricted visiting to hospitals and care homes due to the virus on relatives' experience of their loved-one's final days.

The paper published in Palliative Medicine on Wednesday has finally given a voice to those bereaved during the pandemic.

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Relatives interviewed as part of the study described the ongoing pain of being absent at the end of a loved-one's life.

Many had not seen their loved-ones for weeks or months due to the pandemic.

Researchers now argue that opportunities must be prioritised for essential connections between families at end-of-life care.

£500 support for bereaved parents in Wales

£500 support for bereaved parents in Wales

This is why the paper makes important recommendations for health and social care professionals providing end-of-life care during the pandemic.

These include facilitating video and telephone calls between patients and relatives, regular phone updates about personal aspects of care, and organising in-person 'final goodbyes' wherever possible.

They also focus on offering advice and guidance about how to prepare children for the death of a loved one.

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Lead author of the paper, Dr Jeff Hanna at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, commented on the outcome of the study: "This timely research reports important recommendations for health and social care professionals as they provide end-of-life care during a pandemic.

"They have a pivotal role in facilitating vital interactions between relatives and their loved ones.

"The vast number of deaths in the UK means this work provides salient lessons for supporting families at end-of-life."

The research team also argues that adopting these recommendations is important as previous research shows that when the needs of relatives are addressed at the time a family member is dying, they cope and adjust much better in bereavement.

This study was funded by the Westminster Foundation and Yorkshire Cancer Research.