Senior Doctors and nurses in Doncaster are encouraging people to think about eventuality of death as part of national Dying Matters awareness week.
Death happens to us all and is a normal part of nature’s order. Planning for it but not dwelling on it is a key aspect of living a happy, full and productive life.
Death needn’t be such a taboo subject and the Dying Matters campaign suggests that we should prepare more often for it, such as sharing our wishes for funeral arrangements; this will also help families in their time of need.
This year’s national theme asks the question ‘Are we ready’ and to help encourage conversations about death, a number of messages and resources have been produced to help answer questions that many people may have.
In April 2019, Doncaster launched a nationally recognised process called ReSPECT, which creates personalised recommendations for a person’s clinical care in a future emergency.
In situations where people may not be able to verbally or physically express their views, the ReSPECT form helps clinical staff, such as consultants, doctors, nurses and ambulance crews to be aware of individual choices if they need emergency care and treatment.
ReSPECT can be for anyone, but will have increasing relevance for people who have complex health needs, people nearing the end of their lives, and people who are at increased risk of sudden deterioration. The ReSPECT form also incorporates decisions in relation to attempt resuscitation.
Supporting this week’s awareness raising and encouraging conversations is Dr Dean Eggitt, a Doncaster GP and Chief Executive of Doncaster Medical Committee (LMC). Dr Eggitt said: “It is vital that we encourage more people to think about death and to break down the barriers that often exist when it comes to talking about death.
“For many people and their immediate friends and family, planning for death not only means their wishes are known, but from a medical perspective, it means that doctors, nurses and consultants are aware of what someone’s wishes and preferences are should they require care and treatment in an emergency situation.
“As a GP, I would wholeheartedly encourage people to think about death and speak with their GP or nurse to ask about how the ReSPECT form can be completed for them.”
Dr Jenny Collins, GP and End of Life Care Clinical Lead at Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “As everyone deals with death and grief in a different way, it’s important that people feel like they can ask others for help in their time of greatest need.
“Many people feel too scared of being judged, too proud to show emotion or can’t find the words to express what they’re feeling. On the other side, if we can see someone dealing with death, we may find it hard to talk to them about it out of politeness or fear of saying the wrong thing to them and increasing the hurt.
“End of Life care is really important, so please do speak to your family, friends, GP or nurse about death, planning and your wishes.”
A new dedicated web page has been created for patients and members of the public in Doncaster and includes a number of videos from healthcare staff. Videos will be shared on this web page and via social media during the week of action.
Dying Matters awareness week takes place 13 to 19 May.