Local Hospice Recognises ‘Dying Matters’ Week

Death and dying can be a hard subject to talk about no matter what age you are. But across Havens Hospices we work with patients, families and their loved ones to try and help them to die well. What does Dying Well mean?

For Fair Havens it is having honest conversations that allow them to help their patient die well.

Louise Hatchard, Fair Havens Advanced Nurse Practitioner says

“Some people prefer to live in complete ignorance. We have to respect that. Other patients do want to know; the uncertainty is the difficult thing for many. We often get asked ‘Am I going to die today?’ The honest answer to that is we don’t know.

“But then we’re able to talk about how poorly they are and explore their thoughts and feelings. Our cues always come from the patient. Really you have one chance to get this right for them. You need to give them the chance to say things or do things they need to do and if you don’t have these open conversations then you never know.”

For young adults who access The J’s Hospice, dying well can mean achieving or reaching a goal.

The J’s Clinical Team Leader, Caroline Hare explains

“We encourage our young adults to think about what they would like at end of life. If they would prefer to be in hospital or they’d like to die at home, we will support them and ensure that other professionals know that decision so we’re all working towards achieving those goals for them.

“They may have ‘bucket lists’: they might want to go to the beach or see a particular film before they die. We really try to facilitate those things, not just in their healthcare but also in the terms of what they’ve achieved as young adults in their shortened lives”

Little Havens takes a different approach when tackling death and dying, using play and creative therapy to help not just the child that their caring for but all children affected by life-limiting illnesses.

Allison Mullins, Children and Youth Worker, works closely with the charity’s three children’s support groups, for children aged 5 to 16 who have a relative that is being cared for by the charity.

She added

“You can’t pressure a child to talk to you, you have to let them come to you – whenever we hold our groups we always start them by letting them all know they are in a safe space and we are there to listen if they want to talk to us about their Special Person. We then start a craft activity and often find that the children will start talking to each other about why they come to the group and their relative this then let’s us start a dialogue.”

Alison suggests making a memory box or a sand jar with children to help them have a good experience of death and dying because it helps them process it and also helps them talk about how it makes them feel and these can be made with their loved one as well.

If you want to find out more about how to have open and honest conversations about death and dying please click here [https://www.dyingmatters.org/].

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