Talking about death doesn’t bring death closer. It’s about planning for life helping you to make the best of the time that you have.
As a society, we need to talk more about death, dying and bereavement. As individuals, we need to have a conversation about what we want at the end of our life - whatever our age or state of health.
The Dying Matters Coalition, set up by the National Council for Palliative Care, raises awareness of death, dying and bereavement and provides the support and information people need to have these conversations with loved ones. This year, week 14 – 22 May is ‘Dying Matters awareness week’ with activities both nationally and locally being organised.
It is about planning for life, helping you to make the best of the time that you have. Many of us have specific wishes about how we’d like to die, or how long we want doctors to try to keep us alive, or what we’d like to happen after our death. There are wills, care and legal arrangements to be sorted – perhaps even issues surrounding who looks after children. You may have worries about what will happen in the future when you are gone, or there may be important emotional matters you want to address now rather than when you know time is short.
Dying Matters encourages people to communicate: - what they want to happen when they are approaching the end of their lives, what they want when they are dying and what they want to happen afterwards
Broadly, these are the questions:
· Where do you want to die? – At home, in a hospice, in a hospital, in a care home or somewhere else?
· When you are approaching the end of your life, is there anything you want to do? – Do you have a ‘bucket list’?
· When you are approaching the end of your life, how do you want to be cared for? – What medical support do you want? Are there any medical procedures or treatments you don’t want? Do you have a preference for who cares for you? Do you have any specific religious or spiritual preferences?
After you have died, what do you want to happen? - What sort of funeral do you want? Do you want your organs to be donated to help others to live? Do you want to donate your body to science? Have you made a will and is it up to date and where is it??
In Bradford and Airedale district, there is a strong partnership of specialist palliative care and end of life care. This supports a wide range of patients with a life limiting illness many of whom are in their last year of life. Care is provided by both generalist and specialist palliative care staff in the community, hospitals, hospices and care homes; SystmOne has played a major part in the coordination of these services across Bradford and Airedale. They jointly provide a coordinated end of life care service for patients aiming to treat them and their families and carers with dignity, care and compassion.
Liz Price, a Macmillan clinical nurse specialist in palliative care at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Death and dying is still a taboo subject, not only with patients and families, but also among some health professionals. Dying Matters Week is an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage discussion about all issues relating to end of life care.