Local residents are being urged to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, with staff at the RUH in Bath and Dorothy House Hospice Care supporting Dying Matters Awareness Week.
Events are being held in wards and departments at the RUH to encourage discussion among staff, patients and families about end of life issues.
The RUH and Dorothy House are also holding a ‘See It My Way’ session for staff to hear from guest speakers, three patients and a carer, about their own personal experience of living with or supporting someone with a life-limiting condition.
Helen Meehan, RUH Lead Nurse for Palliative Care and End of Life, said: “Dying Matters is not just about a person’s final days of life.
“It’s about the weeks, months and years before, and it’s really important for staff to be aware and understanding of the needs of people however close they are to the end of life.
“Every minute someone in England dies, but many people still feel uncomfortable about talking about end of life. We have conversations every day in the hospital about living with uncertainty and about approaching end of life.
“But this isn’t just about what the hospital can do, talking about our own wishes for care at the end of life, sharing what is important to us with our loved ones, our GP and those supporting us can help us to get the care and support that we need, where we want it, at the end of our lives.”
Stephen Dale, Head of Community Partnerships at Dorothy House Hospice Care said: “The See It My Way event is an invaluable opportunity for staff to hear direct from our patients and carers about the small things that make a big difference to their experience of care.”
During the week, representatives from the RUH Specialist Palliative Care team, the Bereavement office, Chaplaincy team, Patient Experience team, Quality Improvement team and the Forever Friends Appeal will visit the wards with information on the resources that are available to support staff who provide compassionate end of life care.
These include information leaflets to support advance care planning conversations, and practical comfort items for the ward Comfort Boxes such as tissues, wash bags, flasks for family members wishing to stay overnight.
The Chaplaincy team can even help to arrange a marriage at short notice under special license for a patient nearing the end of life.
The RUH palliative care team has also created special wedding boxes that contain bunting, fairy lights, two ceramic hearts as a keepsake gift, flowers, bubbles, a wedding card and a gift bag, which the wards can request to support the marriage of a couple when time is so precious.
The RUH’s charity The Forever Friends Appeal is also involved in Dying Matters Week. People are being invited to a Time of Reflection service to remember and celebrate loved ones, to be held in the Spiritual Care Centre on Saturday 26th May at 3pm.
For more information, visit: https://www.dyingmatters.org/AwarenessWeek.