But, he appears to have been a master showman to the end, even down to releasing his latest album and video just days before he died, in what must have been a well planned and orchestrated sequence of events.
If that was the case, he displayed an amazing level of planning and control to ensure his wishes were met. Could his, I wonder, be described as a ’good death’?
Last year, NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) ran a survey to ask local people what they thought contributed to having a ‘good death’.
We received hundreds of replies, which is pleasing to me as many people have difficulty talking about death, even though we will all have to face it at some time.
I’ve just been looking at the many responses we received to the first question in the survey, which asked ‘what care and support would you expect to receive at the end of life?’
One response leapt off the page at me. It simply said “To be able to die with my cat with me! Care that is personalised and respects my wishes.”
I don’t know who penned those comments, as the survey was anonymous, but I echo them whole-heartedly. In a few simple words that person has painted a picture we can all relate to and would wish for at the end of our days, whether we have pets or not.
Being able to maintain a good quality of life and being able to die at home with loved ones around scored highly in our survey.
This is something that we at the CCG are very focussed on. End of life is an area of health care that we are trying to improve in Doncaster and I’m pleased to say we’re making some good progress.
Around 3,000 Doncastrians die each year. Historically, over half of those deaths have taken place in hospital because there hasn’t been a dedicated social care service to help out if they had wanted to die at home.
But now there is. A few months ago the CCG started funding Woodfield 24 Care Services, which was launched to help look after people who are close to death and want to die at home rather than in a hospice or hospital.
The staff are employed by Flourish Enterprises, a not-for-profit enterprise organisation which is a subsidiary of the Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, based at Balby.
At our monthly Governing Body meeting on Thursday this week, we will show video interviews with two people whose families have had close contact with Woodfield 24 staff and who want to express their thanks for the care and help they have received. The meeting is open to the public.