The palliative care team at Airedale hospital is aiming to get people talking about a taboo subject: death. Events are taking place at the hospital as part of the nationwide annual Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from 14-20 May.
A Death Café, where visitors and staff are invited to enjoy tea and cake in a relaxed atmosphere and discuss dying and bereavement, will be held in the hospital restaurant (location C30) from 11.30am to 1.30pm on Tuesday 15 May.
The goal is to create a friendly space for people to ask questions about end of life care issues, such as making a will, planning a funeral or coping with bereavement.
As well as the Death Café, the hospital will also have an information stand in the outpatients department on Monday 14 May, and a Dying Matters marketplace event on Wednesday 16 May with representatives from the hospital and other organisations who support people to have a ‘good death’, including charities, bereavement support, carers support and undertakers.
Set up by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) in 2009, Dying Matters Awareness Week aims to encourage people to talk about their own end of life issues with friends, family and loved ones in order to make ‘a good death’ possible for the 500,000 people who die in England each year.
Research shows there is a major mismatch between people’s preferences for where they would like to die and their actual place of death. Seventy percent of people would prefer to die at home but around half currently die in hospital.
Fiona Widdowson, End of Life Care Facilitator at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Every minute someone in the UK dies, but many of us still do not feel comfortable talking about dying.
“Many people have specific wishes about their end of life care or what they would like to happen to them after their death, but they are reluctant to discuss them, making it much less likely that they will be met.
“Talking more openly about dying can help you to make the most of life and to support loved ones.
“With people living for longer with life limiting illnesses, discussing dying is increasingly important. If you don’t talk to your loved ones about their wishes you may be risking leaving it too late.”