Dr Nick Tupper Blog: Help us tackle the ‘D-word’ taboo

nicktupperWe’ve decided to tackle what’s often seen as a taboo subject by asking Doncaster people to tell us what they think makes a good death.

It’s a sensitive subject to deal with as research suggests that many people are put off discussing the ‘d-word’ with their loved-ones. In fact, it’s a topic they will go to great lengths to avoid.

But it’s an important subject we should all confront, as a good death should be part of a good life.

It’s important because a recent study by national charity, the Dying Matters Coalition, has found that millions of Britons risk missing out on having their end of life wishes met because they haven’t planned for their death.

The charity says that, although a third of British adults think about dying and death at least once a week, nearly three-quarters of the public believe that people in Britain are uncomfortable discussing dying, death and bereavement.

According to the findings, most people thought the most important factor to ensure a good death was being pain-free (33%), followed by: being with family and friends (17%), retaining your dignity (13%) and being cared for and able to die in the place of your choice (5%).

We have produced a short survey that asks Doncaster residents similar questions. It can be completed online in a few minutes by visiting the home page at www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk.

As a CCG we’re responsible for organising and funding the NHS services that Doncaster people need and end of life care really matters to us. We want to find out what matters to people so we can try to arrange local services that meet their preferred choices.

Around 3,000 Doncaster people die every year and currently over half of those deaths take place in hospital. Evidence suggests that by being more proactive in planning care at this point of life, we can improve the quality of life of patients and enhance the experience for patients and their friends and family. We want to extend services into the community to enable people to die in the comfort of their own home with family and friends around them.

A key marker of transforming local services will be to reduce the percentage of patients who die in hospital so that it is in line with the national average. We will do this by providing high quality, responsive services where people live.

We want people to be able to make informed, active decisions about their end of life care and place of death. It’s vital that they are offered choice and control over the things that are important to them at what is a point of maximum vulnerability in their lives.

So please take part in our survey as your views are very important. I’ll discuss the findings in a future column.

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