Dying Matters - Don't be afraid to talk about it

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Conversations about end of life choices can be difficult.  However, a Staffordshire GP wants us to have these conversations to make sure we are all prepared for when someone dies. 

As part of Dying Matters Week (13-19 May 2019), the NHS in Staffordshire is encouraging people to plan ahead and start a conversation with family members. By planning in advance, less pressure will be placed on loved ones at the end of someone’s life. 

Dr Joanna Harley, GP in Lichfield and Macmillan End of Life Facilitator at South Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Unfortunately, it is the one thing which we will all go through at some point, and if we can plan in advance we can try and have what we call a ‘good death’. 

“By that I mean in the place you want to be, surrounded by people you may want to have around, and being comfortable. If need be, we can use medications to reduce pain, agitation and any other symptoms that could be present.  That’s the best thing we can hope for, for other people and for ourselves. 

“Having that conversation early helps everybody plan for that, rather than having a crisis situation, there’s not a plan in place and things don’t happen how we would like.”  

As a part of the awareness week, the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) have chosen a different subject to discuss for each day of the week.  This year’s themes are: 

  • Monday 13 May - Funeral costs  
  • Tuesday 14 May - Memorialisation  
  • Wednesday 15 May - Grieving for a pet 
  • Thursday 16 May - Support for those who are estranged from family or have no family 
  • Friday 17 May - Diversity and inclusion at end of life 

Dr Harley added: “I think this empowers people to have a bit of control in a situation where there’s actually little control.  If you can have decisions made about what you want for yourself, it can make things easier and remove a lot of stress, and the bereavement process can become a little easier.” 

For more information on these decisions you can speak to your GP or health worker and visit the Dying Matters website.