Awareness campaign is a matter of life and death
As part of the annual Dying Matters awareness week, Medway residents are being encouraged to talk about their end of life wishes – from where they want to die to what colours should be worn at their funeral.
The campaign aims to break down the fear and taboo associated with death, dying and bereavement and get people talking more openly.
As a way of getting people talking about end of life care, the local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have installed ‘Before I die’ and ‘After I die’ boards for staff and patients to write their comments on. The boards, which can be found in participating workplaces, encourage people to write down one personal wish for themselves to fulfil before they die, and another for loved ones to fulfil after they’ve gone.
Fiona Armstrong, local GP and Chair of Swale CCG explained: “We each have our own wishes for the future, and things we’d like to try before we die. So let’s start talking about them, share our end of life wishes – and start the important conversations with our loved ones about how we want to say goodbye and what we want to leave behind.
“Our dedicated NHS staff don’t just work to help local people live as health and happy lives as possible – together with partners in health, they also care and support people to be in the place of their choice when they die, supported by end of life nurses, doctors and therapists in hospices, hospitals and in their own homes in as peaceful a way as possible.”
Caroline Selkirk, Accountable Officer at Medway CCG, explained: “We all have something we would like to achieve before we die, from climbing Everest to meeting our first grandchild. However, in order to make the end of our lives easier for us and those we love, it’s important we consider a time after we have gone, which is why these boards also include a space for what we would like to happen after our death – the aim being to get the conversation started and break the taboo around this inevitable fact of life.”
The conversation has already started among Medway CCG and Swale CCG staff, with requests so far including guests wearing bright colours at a funeral; friends to have a drink once a year in remembrance; playing a favourite song; and visiting the deceased’s favourite restaurant.
Caroline added: “It’s good to see so many positive ideas already put forward, helping those left behind to remember and celebrate their loved ones, while acknowledging life goes on – by talking about death and dying it should become easier for all of us to face and cope with in the future.”
It is hoped this conversation will continue, to encompass end of life planning and care, wills and funeral arrangements, to ensure everyone is prepared.
Information leaflets will also be available alongside the boards, to help facilitate the conversation.
Local drop-in question and answer sessions are being run in Swale by Sheppey Matters at Sheerness Healthy Living Centre on 10th May, from 10am until noon.
Dying Matters week runs from 8-14th May, for more information see www.medwayccg.nhs.uk, www.swaleccg.nhs.uk or http://http://http://www.dyingmatters.org
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Notes to Editors
- Medway CCG is responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, for the patient population of 295,223 across Medway.
- Medway CCG’s main role is to plan and buy health services across the Medway towns. It works closely with patient groups, local public health, social care and voluntary sector partners to make sure the right services are available at the right time.
- The CCG is one of 211 in the country, the Medway CCG is made up of GPs, other healthcare professionals and experienced commissioners dedicated to making Medway a healthier place to live.
- It is committed to developing a strong clinically-led organisation that puts the needs of Medway residents at the heart of its decisions.
- Medway Clinical Commissioning Group has a governing body made up of local GPs, a registered nurse and several lay members, all working with a network of health professionals across the area.