One Gloucestershire will show its commitment to understanding and improving people’s experiences of end of life care by supporting Dying Matters Awareness Week. The initiative, which runs from May 10 to 16, aims to open up conversations around death, dying and bereavement.
This year’s focus is on the importance of being in a good place to die. Health and care services in Gloucestershire work closely with partner organisations, with professionals acknowledging that people’s ideas and choices about where to die differ. The pandemic has shown that it is more important than ever for families to discuss and plan for a good death experience.
Dr Kate Tredgett, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Clinical Lead for Palliative and End of Life Care at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Just how much the care of those who are dying matters, has been in the forefront of all our minds, as we have collectively experienced the Covid-19 pandemic. The many challenges the pandemic has brought, including restrictions on being with those important to us at such a significant time, have highlighted the importance of ensuring people get the support they need at the very end of their lives.
“Dying Matters is a coalition that believes in an open culture about death and dying, and this year’s awareness week challenges providers of care to dying people to make every place, be it home, care home, hospice or hospital, as good a place to die as it possibly can be.
“Care providers and representatives of patients and carers from across Gloucestershire work closely through the One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System and Clinical Programme Group to collaborate in delivering care and to continually learn and improve. Over the last year a series of county-wide virtual events have strengthened understanding of current services and are shaping future goals.
“Being in a good place to die also highlights how important it is for people to be able to influence the care they receive at the very end of their life and for that care to reflect their priorities and preferences. Initiatives adopted across Gloucestershire such as ReSPECT – the Recommended Summary Plan for Care and Treatment, which encourages clinicians to engage with patients about what is important to them, together with bespoke clinician training initiatives, are focused on enabling each and every person to live and to die well.”
In recent years, more people than ever are dying at home and the Covid-19 pandemic has seen numbers increase further. Dying Matters Awareness Week is a chance to reduce the stigma around talking about death and dying so that people feel empowered to start important conversations and make difficult decisions.
Jane Haros Associate Director of Nursing at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Lead for Palliative and End of Life Care, said: “We are committed to understanding and improving people’s experiences of end of life care, and shaping our services and support to enable everyone to be in a good place to die.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic more people than ever have died at home. We recognise the importance of working closely with all system partners across One Gloucestershire to provide the right support and care, in the right place and at the right time through improved integration of services.
“This will enable us to provide care closer to home in line with people’s choices. To help shape and improve palliative and end of life care services and support in the future we encourage your feedback via this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/EndofLifeGlos/.”
Hannah Williams, Deputy Director of Nursing and Quality at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “It’s really important that we keep talking about death and dying not only as professionals, but also as a society so that we can continue to break down stigma and give people the confidence to initiate those difficult conversations. It’s hugely important for people to be in a good place to die not just physically, but also emotionally and with the right care in place.”
Rob Fountain, Chief Executive Officer at Age UK Gloucestershire said: “Dying is both universal and intensely personal. It happens to us all, but what matters to us at the end will not be the same for everyone. “Despite the fact that it will affect all of us, we still tend not to talk much about death and dying. That means that people’s preferences and things that could make a positive difference to them at the end are not always known and so cannot be acted upon.
“We know that talking about dying doesn’t make it more likely to happen sooner. We also know that having talked about what matters to you around death and dying can lead to less time in hospital towards the end of life, less family and carer stress, and people experiencing ‘better’ deaths.
“Talking to those who are important to us about the things we might want or value is the first step. Most people find that having talked about this, they feel a great sense of relief and they can get busy living.”
Matthew’s story – A personalised approach to end of life care in Gloucestershire.
Links to support:
Further bereavement resources are accessible here
Support for NHS Staff:
NHS Bereavement and Loss Support Line: Dial 0300 303 4434 7 days a week 8.00am-8.00pm
Join the conversation on social media:
Use the following hashtags on Twitter and Facebook #InAGoodPlace #DMAW21