We know it can be hard to chat to loved ones about death and preparing for the end of someone’s life. It is a conversation which is so easy to put off for another day, but communicating your wishes early can really make a difference.

As the UK marks Dying Matters Week, which aims to normalise conversations about death, the NHS in Gloucestershire has launched a new digital resource to help families, carers and those facing End of Life Care.

The webpages provide information and practical advice, from care planning to how to communicate your wishes.

Jane Haros, Deputy Director of Nursing, Integrated Commissioning, Health, Care and Communities at NHS Gloucestershire said:

“We know that talking about death or dying can be tough and upsetting for those facing End of Life Care but planning, communicating and making our wishes clear is so important when it comes to having a good death.

“Our webpages have been designed with users to help bring together a range of resources families and patients need when it comes to understanding End of Life and Palliative Care“

The pages provide help for people with planning future care, along with understanding what they might expect at the point someone is dying, and helpful support and information following a person’s death. Support and information is also available for carers.

This year’s Dying Matters week theme is ‘the way we talk about Dying Matters’ and it focuses on the conversations we have around death and dying.

Dr Claire Kingswood, NHS Gloucestershire’s Primary Care Clinical Lead for End of Life and Care in the Community and a GP based in Nailsworth, said making plans and focusing on living well at the end of life is important.

She said:

“End of Life planning and conversations have had negative connotations in the past. When we talk about hospital admissions and treatment plans people have associated it with being written off, or not having any treatment.

“I am hoping the tide is turning and conversations are happening earlier, with a focus on how you want to live your life, what is most important to you, and getting your wishes down so they can be honoured.”

The webpages can be found at: https://www.nhsglos.nhs.uk/your-health-services/community-and-hospital-care/palliative-and-end-of-life-care/

As part of Dying Matters Week, which runs from May 6 to May 12 NHS Gloucestershire has also released a series of videos of key conversations about death and end of life care led by Andy Holness, Patient & People’s Voice Partner, Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon & Gloucestershire (SWAG) Cancer Alliance and Dr Claire Kingswood, NHS Gloucestershire Primary Care Clinical Lead for End of Life Care, they can be found on the NHS Gloucestershire YouTube Channel and will be shared across social media channels throughout the week.

Alongside the new webpages there is a strong network of bereavement support groups already running across Gloucestershire. Here are some which may be useful or helpful.

Sue Ryder Grief Kind Spaces

Sue Ryder Grief Kind Spaces take place every week at the same time, venue and day as below:

  • The Exmouth Arms, Bath Road, Cheltenham: Mondays 5pm to 7pm
  • The Boat on the Dock, The Barge Arm, Gloucester Docks, Tuesdays 10am to 12pm
  • The Place to Eat Café, John Lewis Cheltenham, Wednesdays 9am to 11am
  • Guilt Trip (formally Tank), Llanthony Road, Gloucester Quays, Wednesdays 5pm to 7pm

Gloucestershire Residents are warmly invited to attend these sessions, which will be running as normal during Dying Matters Week. There is no need to book, you don’t need to register, and you don’t have to have experienced the care offered by Sue Ryder to join.

You might be recently bereaved or have been bereaved some time ago.

Survey – Your Views and experiences

We recognise that thinking and talking about death and dying can be difficult, but we want to hear your views about the care and support you may receive when you or your loved ones are near the end of life.  People often tell us they don’t feel prepared and they haven’t fulfilled their wishes or communicated them.

Your views will help shape and improve palliative and end of life care services and support available in Gloucestershire in the future and help us understand where the changes we have made have made a difference to you. The feedback that you provide is anonymous and will be stored securely. To find out more about the way NHS Gloucestershire uses your information please click here to visit our website.

Please only answer those questions you feel able to. If you would like to talk to someone afterwards you can find more information and details of available support here.

Dying Matters: your views and experiences – May 2024 (smartsurvey.co.uk)