ABSCo Conference 2017 - “Death and Bereavement in the digital age”

  • 11 Jul 2017
  • 9:00 AM
  • 12 Jul 2017
  • 3:00 PM
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • 46


Please ensure you have read our booking terms and condition before booking.
An invoice will be emailed to you following completion of your booking.

ABSCo Conference 2017

11th & 12th July 2017, Trinity University College, Leeds

“Death and Bereavement in a Digital Age”

Conference aims:

To look at the impact of the internet and social media on the experience of death and bereavement.

To look at ways in which technology and social media can be used to support bereaved people.

Conference chair: Kate Gowshall, St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney






Welcome, Housekeeping, Introduction


Paula Kiel, PhD Researcher, Department of Media and Communications, LSE

Communication technologies and death: From print to the digital afterlife

Since their nascence communication technologies have been closely linked to death and to the possibility of maintaining relationships with the dead. This is mainly due to the ways in which communication technologies have repeatedly challenged (and keep challenging) the boundaries between presence and absence. This historical perspective provides the introduction and context for discussing newly emerging practices of the digital afterlife. An overview of available digital afterlife services is presented, linking it to contemporary Western social approaches to death and bereavement. The affordances as well as limitations of these services are discussed focusing both on design as well as experience of use of said platforms.




James Norris, The Digital Legacy Association, DeadSocial & UCL research fellow

How to support the bereaved with a loved one’s digital estate

It is important for professionals to understand the recent changes in behaviour, grief and online memorials following the mass adoption of the internet and communication technologies. James will explore how online platforms and accounts can be viewed, accessed and archived by friends and families following the death of a loved one. Case studies will explore both the benefits and problems that can arise following someone’s death in today’s connected world.

Best practice guidelines will be examined and there will be an opportunity to suggest how the Digital Legacy Association can better support bereavement professionals to facilitate conversations and support. The session will conclude with an open discussion about how applying practical knowledge to your own practice and overcoming barriers.




Workshops: Choice of 4




Mórna O Connor

Preliminary findings of The Digital Memories Study: Exploring how bereaved people utilise and experience the posthumous digital artefacts of their dead.




Bar open


Evening meal

We will have live background music during our evening meal presented by the West Yorkshire based band The Hollow Men. Following on from the meal they will present a live musical puppet show based on the Death in a Nut story which they describe as a life affirming tale about mortality







Wendy Lewis-Cordwell, Child Bereavement UK

Linking Social Media with Bereavement Theories and Models of Grief

How social media and the digital age link with bereavement theories and particular models of grief - reflecting specifically on young people




Lalage Harries, Training Standards Officer for ACTO - the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online

Online Support, Data Storage and Security: Some Legal and Ethical Considerations

This presentation will look at the online storage and dissemination of sensitive material including case notes, client information and online therapy itself. We will explore current legal and ethical guidance and upcoming legislation coming into force over the next year.




Ideas Exchange


Digital tools: a 'good enough' substitute for bereavement counselling?

In this panel discussion, we will look at how digital tools can support the emotional needs of families going through a bereavement. Ivor Williams, Ben Page, and Louis Weinstock will present the apps they have developed to provide support in this area. They will be joined by Mandy Price, a widow who found the digital tools available inadequate whilst her partner approached the end of her life, and Clare Thomas, CEO of Hope Support Services, the charity that provides online support for families going through a health crisis. What are the limits and possibilities for digital therapy in this complex area? In a world of rapidly changing technology that dominates our lives and deaths, what does the future hold?

Louis Weinstock, Child Psychotherapist

Ben Page, Software engineer

Ivor Williams, Designer

Clare Thomas, CEO of Hope Support Services

Mandy Price, widow


Evaluation, & ABSCo Chair’s closing remarks



Plenary Speaker Biographies

Paula Kiel is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the Department of Media and Communications. Her PhD project explores practices of preparing for post-mortem online communication. She is a member of the Association of Internet Researchers and the Death Online Research Network. Her paper “The Emerging Practices of the Collective Afterlife: Multimodal Analysis of Websites for Post-mortem Digital Interaction” won the Best Student Paper Award at the 2017 Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. Her research interests include: death online, the Internet and computer-mediated communication, visual media, media and everyday life and technological innovation. 

For more information visit: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/WhosWho/PhdResearchers/PaulaKiel.aspx

James Norris is the founder of the Digital Legacy Association and DeadSocial.org.

The Digital Legacy Association was set up to support end of life, funeral and palliative care professionals in areas relating to digital legacy and digital assets. They do so through training, campaigning, events and providing best practice frameworks.

DeadSocial.org provides tools, tutorials and resources for the general public. They empower people to make better end of life decisions and to utilise technology in this process when it is relevant for the individual to do so. DeadSocial has been featured in a variety of mainstream publications ranging from BBC Click, The Guardian and the Daily Mail to Vice Magazine and the Queen Latifah show.

Over the last five years it has been James’ mission to help people prepare for death in both the digital and real world. James is also a lecturer in digital media and social media at University College London (UCL).

Mórna O’Connor is a doctoral candidate at NCARE: Nottingham Centre for the Advancement of Research in End of Life Care at the School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham. Mórna has a background in Psychology has worked at NCARE (formerly The Sue Ryder Care Centre for the Study of Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care) and at Health E-Learning Media (HELM), Nottingham for the past four years researching the modern-day experiences of end of life. Mórna’s work and doctoral research is focused on the impact of modern technologies on human experience, culture and memory, particularly in relation to the internet-age experiences of death, dying and bereavement.

Wendy Lewis-Cordwell is Director of Bereavement Care Services - Cumbria and Lancashire, and the North West Bereavement Care Development Consultant for Child Bereavement UK. 

Wendy liaises with all sectors of care – Acute Hospitals, Hospices, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Care plus third sector organisations dealing with all types of bereavement, focusing on palliative, end of life care and care of the deceased person, including providing dignified and respectful services for all bereaved families.

A trained facilitator for BSA 'When a Patient Dies', National Gold Standards Bereavement Care Training, Child Bereavement UK, Grief Journey UK, NCPC Associate and Bereavement Care Services.

She is Chair of Bereavement Services Association (BSA), Chair of Lancashire and South Cumbria Children’s Palliative Care Network, National Bereavement Alliance steering group member, Funeral Poverty Alliance - Public Affairs Working Group providing a collective voice to the Government, other professionals and members of the public.

Her passion is to make a difference by supporting bereaved families and give them a voice to enable change.

Lalage Harries is an Integrative counsellor and supervisor, specialising in working with young people. She also has particular interest in cross cultural issues in counselling and in bereavement. She has worked in a variety of face to face and online settings including educational, health care and charitable organisations and has trained counsellors to work online since 2012. Forthcoming publications include ‘Online supervision and managing risk in an international context’ in Online Supervision: A Handbook for Practitioners (ed. Anne Stokes, published by Karnac in 2017)

Lalage currently works with Off The Record Croydon as online clinical supervisor and senior practitioner and is Training Standards Officer for ACTO – the Association of Counselling and Therapy Online. She also runs an independent practice online and in Cambridge, offering counselling, supervision, training and safeguarding consultancy. www.LGHCounselling.co.uk

Louis Weinstock is a Child and Family Psychotherapist and Social Entrepreneur, with a specialist interest in digital technology and death and dying. He set up and led a therapeutic education provision for some of London's most disadvantaged teenagers, kickstarted Headspace's mindfulness app for kids, worked at St Joseph's Hospice as a Family Counsellor, and is co-founder of Bounce Works, the foundry that created the Apart of Me game, to support young people with a parent at the end of life.

Ben Page is a professional software developer with 17 years experience working in startups, government and financial institutions. He has designed, built and launched multiple products, and is co-founder of Bounce Works.

Ivor Williams is a designer whose practice is focused around design for death and dying. He is co-founder of the tech-for-good company Humane Engineering, with their first product Cove, a music-maker designed to improve self-expression for those experiencing bereavement. He is also Senior Design Associate at the Helix Centre, a design studio embedded in an NHS Trust in central London. With 10 years experience, he has worked with national governments, NGOs, cultural institutions and commercial companies. He teaches regularly, previous positions including IUAV Venice, Design Academy Eindhoven and the Glasgow School of Art. 

Clare Thomas has worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years – at senior levels in charities both in the UK and in Brussels.  She has been CEO of Hope since July 2015.  Hope supports young people right from the moment of diagnosis of a close family member from a life threatening illness   Much of her focus has been the development of Hope nationally. Also another significant piece of work - following a request from the trustees of St Michaels’s Hospice in Herefordshire she have just begun to deliver its children and young person’s support service.

Mandy Price is a widow with 2 children who found the digital tools available inadequate whilst her partner approached the end of her life


1:  “Digital Assets & Digital Legacy hands-on workshop”

   James Norris, The Digital Legacy Association

Workshop description:

This workshop will require attendees to have a laptop or iPad. It will be a hands on workshop and include role-play. Following the workshop participants will have the skills to support the recently bereaved whilst sitting with them during specific digital assets and digital legacy administrative and often sensitive tasks. This will include the main platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc and the main devices used in the UK (laptops, smartphones etc). It will include, for example, sending out funeral invitations by email, how to use someone’s Facebook account to decide which photos should be used at their order of service etc.

Facilitator biography: See plenary speaker biographies.

2:  “Working relationally through Skype

   Jonathan Hartley, Bereavement Coordinator/Counsellor, St Joseph’s Hospice

Workshop description:

As the quality of relationship between therapist and client is increasingly acknowledged as a key factor in a positive outcome in any therapeutic intervention, this interactive workshop explores the possibilities, and shortcomings, of working relationally on Skype.

Including a live demonstration using the technology, it will explore:

·       Does Skype provide an effective way of extending access to counselling for all, not just the ‘digital native’ generation?

·       Does Skype support an immediate and authentic therapeutic alliance, or does it ‘merely support a feeling or illusion of being in someone’s presence without sharing any immediate space’ (Fink)?

·       What is the Skype-based power relationship? Does it provide clients with a feeling of greater equality and autonomy?

·       How to address the practical issues and risks associated with using Skype, such as confidentiality, privacy and contracting?

Facilitator biography:

Jonathan combines his part-time coordinator/counsellor/supervisor role in St Joseph’s Hospice Hackney with a private counselling and supervision practice. Having initially used Skype to maintain access with clients internationally, he increasingly uses Skype to work with counselling clients and supervisees for whom it is a first choice mode of accessing support.

3:  “Online Counselling and Support via Email and Live Text: How It Works and Why It Matters”

   Lalage Harries, Training Standards Officer for ACTO, the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online

Workshop description:

This workshop will:

  • Provide an introduction to the theory and practice of text based counselling and psychotherapy
  • Look at how text based support can be incorporated into existing face to face services to enhance their effectiveness

·         Explore engaging ‘hard to reach’ bereaved client groups via email and live text counselling and support and additional online creative tools.

Facilitator biography: See plenary speaker biographies.

4:  “The advantages and disadvantages of Social Media for bereaved young people”

   Wendy Lewis-Cordwell, Child Bereavement UK

Workshop description:

  • The thoughts of a Young Peoples Advisory Group Project that examined the pros and cons of Social Media and Grief in the digital age
  • The two groups questioned what helped and hindered them through bereavement, anxieties, negative comments also reaching a bigger audience, memorials and keeping up with the trends!
  • What do we need to think about when supporting young people using new technologies?

Facilitator biography: See plenary speaker biographies.

Full booking terms and conditions available by clicking the link on the booking. Please ensure you read these, in brief and for your imformation below.

Notification of cancellations should be made in writing and will be effective on the date received by the conference organiser sharon@absco.org.uk or paul@absco.org.uk
Your cancellation rights:
(a) You may cancel any booking by giving us notice in writing/email.
(b) If you cancel within 7 working days of submitting* your booking, you will receive a full refund of any monies paid in advance. We will refund you/your organisation by cheque.
(c) If you cancel after 7 working days of submitting your booking, you will incur a £15 administration charge and a cancellation fee will be charged based upon the date of notification as follows:
*For Events and Conferences:
(1) Less than 2 calendar months and more than 1 calendar month prior to the event start
date – 50% of the price charged for the event
(2) Up to 1 calendar month prior to the event start date – 100% of the price charged for
the event
(d) Such cancellation fees are to cover costs incurred by us as a result of your cancellation which will not be recoverable by us.

ABSCo reserves the right to cancel the booking if the holding of the function is prevented by reason of circumstances beyond the control of ABSCo. Please carefully read the booking Terms and Conditions

Third party personal insurance and liability
ABSCo/Leeds Trinity shall not be responsible for any loss or damage to property arising out of the conference attendance or any injury which may be incurred by any persons during the conference arising from any cause whatsoever. Nor shall ABSCo be responsible for any loss due to mechanical breakdown, failure in electricity supply, flood, fire, government restriction or act of God which may cause the Leeds trinity University premises to be temporarily closed or the function interrupted.

ABSCo - Association of Bereavement Service Coordinators - Hospice and Palliative Care


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software