19th May 2011
NHS Sheffield is supporting Dying Matters Awareness Week, 16th -22nd May, to encourage people to talk about death and support them to talk to their families and friends about their wishes towards the end of their lives.
Talking about death can be hard and often a taboo subject, therefore, the Dying Matters Coalition, a group set up to promote public awareness of death, dying and bereavement, is encouraging people to remove the stigma and talk openly to their loved ones about their choices.
Sheffield GP, Dr Anthony Gore, said:
“Obviously talking about losing a loved one is hard for everyone but having plans set in place in the event of death could remove a large burden in the grieving process.
“Without openness and a full understanding, death and in fact long term illness can feel lonely and stressful. Patients can often feel isolated by their illness and sometimes don’t know how to talk about dying or express their wishes for end of life care, organ donation or funeral arrangements.
“By empowering and encouraging people to talk about their care it means a greater chance for their wishes to be expressed and fulfilled, relieving a lot of stress from both themselves and their loved ones.
“People choose how they live and when it comes to the end of their life, where possible, we believe it is important for people to have as much choice as they can about their death.
"Everyone is different which is why it is important for people to have the opportunity to talk about what feels right for them. This might include conversations about when to resuscitate, pain medication, where they want to be and who they want with them.
"It is about making patients feel as comfortable and as reassured as possible.”
NHS Sheffield has worked to encourage conversations around death and patient choice in terms of long term conditions and end of life care.
Kath Horner, NHS Sheffield’s Public Health lead on End of Life Care, said:
“We are involved in a number of initiatives in Sheffield which are aimed at making care choices as simple and as easy to understand as possible for patients with long term conditions and who are nearing the end of their lives.
“For example, the agreement we have with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service around alternative care which understands that people often prefer to die at home rather than in a hospital or hospice.
“Sometimes however, changes in their symptoms or condition can cause carers or relatives to call 999.
“If this happens, the agreement we have enables the paramedics to assess the patient and if appropriate, refer them to community nurses for advice or further care.
“This means that the patient can remain in their own home rather than be taken to A&E and could be the difference between dying at home with family and friends or in a hospital.”
For more information on Dying Matters Awareness Week and how you can get involved, visit: http://www.dyingmatters.org/site/resources/awareness-week