Why it's good to talk about death and dying

Posted: May 9, 2017

Trust marks Dying Matters Awareness Week

In honour of Dying Matters Awareness Week (8-14 May), Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating its close partnership with Prospect Hospice in Wroughton to highlight how important it is to talk about death and dying and learn more about what we can all do to support our friends and families.
 
The Trust's End of Life Team, which is made up of staff from both the Trust and the Hospice, will be on hand in the Atrium at Great Western Hospital, Swindon on Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 May to talk to patients and visitors.
 
Karen Brown, End of Life Nurse, said: "Dying is part of everyday life at the Trust and it's important we get it right for our patients and their families.

"We will be showing people what we do, the support we provide and how their feedback is so important. We want to show that the care and the learning doesn't stop when someone dies and we will always welcome your comments on how we can improve our service."

More personalised care

Dying patients at the GWH, along with families and carers, are now more involved in planning their care thanks to the introduction of individual care plans in June 2015.
 
The Personalised Care Plan enables patients to discuss and document their own personal end of life care needs and wishes with healthcare staff, including where they want to spend their final days and how loved ones should be supported.
 
The Personalised Care Plan is part of the Trust's End of Life Strategy, which is designed to ensure that patients, families and carers receive the care and support they need and that respect and dignity is preserved both during and after a patient's life.
 
Part of this work has seen the introduction of a new portable syringe pump, which allows palliative patients to continue receiving medication in and out of hospital. This means they can be discharged home, or to a hospice or care home, with the syringe still in place, ensuring their symptoms remain well controlled even when they leave hospital.

Supporting heart failure patients

Improvements have also been made to the care given to heart failure patients as they approach the end of their lives.
 
Since early 2016, the End of Life Care Team have been working with colleagues in Cardiology to put themselves into the shoes of patients, their families and carers.
 
Heart failure affects 900,000 people in the UK, but despite having a similar prognosis to most cancers, heart failure patients don't have access to the same amount of information or support for their condition.
 
Its unpredictable nature can also mean that clinicians find it difficult to talk to patients about this terminal condition.
 
The project has brought about a number of improvements including updates to patient literature, more clinic time for patients to discuss their needs and concerns, and earlier referrals to the End of Life Team for information and support.
 
Dr Kate Tredgett, Consultant in Palliative Medicine at both the Great Western Hospital and the Prospect Hospice, said: "It is vital to talk, plan and make arrangements for the very end of our lives - before it's too late. Too many of us fail to make the necessary plans for when we die, leaving partners, families and friends with a legacy of uncertainty."
 
Prospect Hospice is running a series of events during the week, including Death Cafés, which aim to encourage more discussion about dying. For more information, visit www.prospect-hospice.net