Measurement and Evaluation Standards: Introduction


The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) outlines a commitment to put in place suicide bereavement support in every area of the country by 2023/24. This work is already well underway, with new and expanded services being delivered in more areas of the country each year. In many areas these services form part of a wider network of support to people bereaved or affected by suicide.

The report, ‘From Grief to Hope’, published in 2020 comes from Manchester University and Support After Suicide Partnership, and shares the findings from a survey of over 7000 people bereaved by suicide, about the impact the bereavement had on their lives.

One of the key recommendations contained in the report is the implementation of national minimum standards in postvention services.  Appendix A of the report summarises the contributions made by participants in the research, which has led to the identification of areas of good practice and minimum standards required for suicide bereavement support services.

It is hoped that these Core Standards go some way to address some of the important areas raised in the report.

As more new suicide bereavement support services are commissioned, adopting a set of Core Standards will offer assurance that services delivering postvention support to people bereaved or affected by suicide, are delivering high quality services, achieving consistency and supporting their staff to provide support to those bereaved or affected by suicide.

The Core Standards outline key areas for service delivery and are intended to sit alongside locally agreed performance indicators, to support continuous measurement and inform service improvement, as part of an overall measurement and evaluation framework. 

Whilst the core standards are primarily directed towards suicide bereavement services delivering services commissioned as part of the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, we would hope that these core standards could also provide a helpful resource and guidance for anyone working to deliver suicide bereavement support in any capacity. 

Adopting the standards

The Core Standards provide an evidence-based framework for service delivery which will enable providers to deliver a sustainable service and provide evidence to meet criteria required by commissioners to secure future funding. The Core Standards are based on the shared experiences of existing commissioned services and informed by published guidance, UK and international research in postvention and the NICE guidelines (2019; Suicide Prevention QS189, Quality statement 5: Supporting people bereaved or affected by suspected suicide).

Although service delivery in different localities is likely to be influenced by factors such as demographics and geography and will need to reflect the communities they serve (e.g. a rural area may have very different needs to an inner-city environment regarding cultural differences, public transport, accessibility of services, etc.), the fundamental principles are shared. 

As small services are frequently working in isolation, a nation-wide community of service providers who share the Core Standards can not only provide a network of mutual support and collaborative learning, but also ensure that those who are bereaved and affected by suicide will receive an equitable service wherever they are in the country.

Using the Core Standards

The Core Standards can be used in a range of ways, which may include:

  • By local suicide prevention and suicide bereavement support systems to inform the development of services; for inclusion in contracts and service specifications.
  • To support organisations setting up suicide bereavement support services.
  • To provide standards against which services can measure they are delivering a high-quality service
  • As an audit tool to allow services to benchmark themselves and highlight areas of good practice and areas for development.  
  • To inform the focus of service evaluation. 

The core standards are divided in to 7 core themes, each of which contains a number of specific standards. The core standards are not presented in any order of importance but, where possible, reflect a pathway. 

It expected that many of the standards will already be in place for services delivering suicide bereavement support, or for there to be robust plans in place to meet the standards. The core standards recognise that services may be of different sizes and stages of maturity and that for some there may be areas of the service that need to be further developed.

Support and Resources 

The Core standards are designed to be used interactively and each standard links to evidence that might be used to show the standard has been met and a range of resources, including; templates, guidance and case studies, offer support for services in meeting the standards. Available on the SASP Central Hub website 

A Self-assessment and Local Action Plan template is available to allow services to use the core standards to measure themselves, identify priority areas and develop individual local action plans. 

See the Standards