60 seconds with Shaan Malhotra

15 January 2019

Shaan Malhotra, head of bereavement and mortuary services, RFH

Shaan Malhotra, is the head of bereavement and mortuary services, at the Royal Free Hospital

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

My interest in death and bereavement probably began when I was 11 years old and lost my uncle and aunt within weeks of each other.

I was very close to them and the whole experience never left me, in fact, with each new bereavement, the need to help grew.

I completed an MSc in Applied Psychology in 2003 while I worked at British Airways and went straight into a junior role as patient support coordinator at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust where I set up and coordinated the bereavement service.

I then moved on to manage the private patients division at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust before coming here.

Tell us about your role

I’m here to ensure that bereavement and mortuary services deliver safe, coordinated and compassionate care to patients, bereaved family and friends and to staff.

While the day to day work continues, my focus is to support my team to be integral in the development of the services so we remain innovative and forward thinking in every way possible. This includes developing training across the trust, recording mortality data and meeting individual patient and family needs.

Can you describe an average week?

In these services, nothing is average. It’s a blend of specific service development such as new literature, developing and implementing a three year strategy to enhance the service, establishing new working relationships with Her Majesty’s Coroner and creating and delivering training programmes for all hospital staff who might be involved in any aspect of a patient’s death.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Never quite knowing what need or challenge might come through the door; it’s exhilarating and exciting. The most rewarding part is spending time with bereaved families.

What’s the biggest challenge in your job?

Persuading staff who regularly come into contact with patients to try to attempt to resolve any concerns raised by patients or their carers, rather than telling them how to make a complaint. The concerns don’t go away simply because we try to avoid them. Instead, they become more time consuming to resolve and may require formal investigations and written responses.

What would be your perfect day away from work?

A vegetarian roast lunch at Blenheim Palace followed by a long walk through the grounds and gardens with my wife, with some falconeering thrown in.

Tell us something about you that very few people know…

I make my own one-of-a-kind cufflinks. I hide out in my workshop and immerse myself in my little creative hobby.