Dying Matters Awareness Week

PEOPLE will be encouraged to talk openly about dying, death and bereavement in the week ahead as it is designated Dying Matters Awareness Week.

The theme of Dying Matters Awareness week 2012 between May 14-20 is “Small Actions, Big Difference”, aimed at encouraging individuals and organisations to take the simple steps that can make a big difference to people when they are dying or bereaved.

Whether it is through sharing their wishes with someone close to them, registering to become an organ donor, writing a will, considering taking out a funeral plan or making an effort to speak to someone who has been recently bereaved, members of the public can take small actions that make a real difference.

Research has found that many people have specific wishes about their end of life care or what they would like to happen to them after their death, but that a reluctance to discuss these issues makes it less likely that these will be met.

The majority of people (70 per cent) would prefer to die at home but more than half currently die in hospital.

The Southern Trust has developed Advance Care Planning guidelines, which are currently being introduced within the Trust. Advanced Care Planning is the process of supporting a person to think about the impact of an illness or disability and talk about their future care, with care providers and loved ones.

These guidelines will support health and social care staff in having discussions with patients about their future care wishes and preferences.

Angela McVeigh, Director of Older People and Primary Care, Southern Trust said, “The Southern Trust is committed to providing care for patients in their preferred place of care whenever possible, and these guidelines will facilitate the recording and sharing of patient’s wishes about their future care.”

Mrs McVeigh said, “During this Dying Matters Awareness week we would like to highlight that theTrust has published a Coping with Bereavement information booklet for relatives following the death of a patient.

“The booklet, which has also been translated in five languages, explains the practical arrangements that need to be made following a death, organisations that need to be informed of a death and information on support services available.

“Providing information and support to families and carers following a death and during the grieving process is very important. Grieving is a natural response to the death of a loved one and the subsequent loss. Most people cope during the grieving process with the support of their family, friends, religious and spiritual advisors, and local community.

“As professional health and social care staff, we fully understand the pain and distress of bereavement. We hope that the booklet will help bereaved relatives with the practicalities of dealing with a death in what are always very sad and difficult times.”

The Trust’s Bereavement co-ordinator Anne Coyle said, “Our hospital and community staff who cared for the patient will do all they can to help and support relatives following the patient’s death.

“It is important that relatives take time as they consider important decisions that they may have to make. In addition to the information booklet, the Trust has produced family handover bags for the respectful and timely return of a deceased patient’s belongings to relatives.”

Other publications available from the Trust include Bereaved through Suicide, Early Pregnancy Loss, and Dealing with Traumatic Bereavement.

These resources and the contact details for support services are available on the Trust’s website at www.southerntrust.hscni.net - coping with bereavement.