This week the newsletter from the Dying Matters campaign landed on my desk and made a very interesting read.
For those of you unfamiliar with Dying Matters, it is a national campaign that encourages everyone to think ahead and to consider talking about their thoughts, feelings and wishes about dying — in the same way as expectant parents are encouraged to write birth plans of their thoughts, feelings and wishes for childbirth.
The newsletter quoted the findings of the NatCen British Social Attitudes Survey, suggesting that although 70% of the public say they are comfortable talking about death, most of us haven’t planned or even discussed our own end of life wishes.
In hospice and palliative care teams we encourage our patients to discuss their wishes in the form of advanced care planning, talking to family members about what’s important to them as individuals and writing those wishes down so that they can be communicated at a time when we might not feel able or strong enough to talk about them ourselves.
I believe advanced care planning and talking about our own end of life allows us to be involved and to maintain control. But that doesn’t mean to say that these conversations are easy for families.
What do you think? Does Nightingale House Hospice do enough to encourage and support patients and families who are having these difficult conversations? If not, what else should we consider?