We know that death, dying and bereavement tend to be topics which many people are not comfortable talking about.
However, the NHS in Gloucestershire is encouraging people to talk about these important issues as part of a campaign to promote awareness of the benefits for people becoming more active in planning for a “good” death, whether this is their own death or that of a loved one. Importantly, people are also being encouraged to think about this in advance of ill health.
During this year’s national Dying Matters Awareness Week (8 – 14 May), the NHS Health Information Bus will be out and about around the county, encouraging people to think about what they can do to prepare themselves and others for the inevitable reality of death and dying and to support friends, family or neighbours when they are affected by these issues, such as following a bereavement.
Dr Emma Husbands, Consultant in Palliative Care at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Talking about and planning for death and dying is never easy, whether this is about yourself or the people you care for.
However, we all need to have the chance to have these difficult conversations, to help us express our priorities for end of life care and enable the people we love to talk to us about their wishes. This knowledge can help us focus care for each individual.”
The NHS Information Bus will carry lots of information about death and dying, with experts on hand to discuss people’s concerns. The aim is to create a friendly space for people to ask questions about end of life care issues, such as making a will, planning a funeral or coping with bereavement.
Dr Hein Le Roux, clinical lead for end of life care at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“We took the Information Bus around the county last year, and it was so successful we wanted to do it again.
Lots of people had so many questions, or said they were glad to be able to talk about death. It can be an awkward subject but if we can’t talk about it we only make it more difficult to deal with. Please come along and have a chat with us.”
The theme for this year’s Dying Matters week is “What Can You Do” as it challenges people to do something practical. This might be something for themselves, like making a will, or something for someone else who is bereaved, or caring for a dying relative. This could be something as simple as cooking a meal or walking the dog, but can make a huge difference to someone coping with death or bereavement.
Susan Field, Director of Nursing at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, said:
“Nurses are extensively involved in supporting people and their families when nearing the end of their life. This ranges from having sensitive conversations with individuals about their end of life choices, recognising any deterioration and providing compassionate care so that any death is dignified.
It’s also important to remember that our nurses continue to support different faiths and beliefs and that they provide care that respects spiritual and religious needs as I believe that if these supportive approaches are present, it helps family members in grieving for someone they love.”
About 1% of the UK population dies each year, which means about 6,000 people will die in Gloucestershire this year, and each of those deaths will affect many more people in different ways.
8 May 2017