2-6 May 2022 is Dying Matters Awareness Week – a reminder that having conversations about dying is often not as hard as you might think. Hospice UK, which supports this campaign, advises that whoever starts the conversation, and however they approach it, never finds it as challenging as they might have thought, and they feel better for talking.
With this in mind, it is an opportunity to start those conversations with friends and family, and healthcare providers where necessary, about death, dying and bereavement. As Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust’s (WCHC) End of Life Care Team describes it, dying is part of all our lives and the more we can do to plan ahead to ensure we are in a good place to die, the better for everyone.
At WCHC, our teams support people at critical points through their entire lives, enabling them to start, live, age and die well. Our End of Life Care Team is an important part of this, helping those with advanced, progressive, incurable illness to live as well as possible until they die. The team have expert knowledge within the field of end of life and palliative care and support patients and their families throughout the last days of life and into bereavement. You can find out more about the team on our website: www.wchc.nhs.uk.
This Dying Matters Awareness Week, our End of Life Care Team is raising awareness of the importance of ‘being in a good place’, with an important part of that being Advanced Care Planning. This idea of being in a good place to die is a key theme of Dying Matters Awareness Week, and it focuses on all the elements and planning to ensure a peaceful, dignified and caring scenario for the individual and their family when the time comes. Dying doesn’t have to have negative connotations. It can provide comfort and bring calm to turbulence – it can be beautiful and peaceful too.
Advanced Care Planning is something we can all do ahead, no matter our age, rather than leaving the planning to a more difficult time in the future. Sue, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the team, advises that, “Having conversations early may relieve some worry about decisions, help everyone to know what is expected of them and if they are able to support in the way you hope.”
Advance Care Planning is a way to think ahead, to describe what’s important to you and to ensure other people know your wishes for the future. Danielle, Senior Nurse Practitioner in our Wirral Community Specialist Palliative Care Team, explains that it “gives us the chance to identify our wishes and preferences and also make family, friends and health professionals aware of these.”
The teams’ key pieces of advice for advanced care planning include choosing a preferred place of care, discussing funeral wishes and agreeing a Lasting Power of Attorney. Teresa, Clinical Nurse Specialist, shares the importance of writing a will: “Remember: where there’s a will there’s a way. I made a will for peace of mind that my wishes will be respected.”
Sheila, Clinical Nurse Specialist, agrees: “The reason I made a will was to give me peace of mind that my wishes will be respected after I die and my loved ones will be protected.”
The idea of being in a good place helps us think about death differently. It doesn’t have to necessarily be something we fear. To learn more about WCHC’s End of Life Care Team and Wirral Community Specialist Palliative Care Team, visit: www.wchc.nhs.uk/services/specialist-palliative-care/ Or for further information on Hospice UK and Dying Matters Week, visit: www.hospiceuk.org