Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is supporting the nationwide Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from May 11-17 2020.
The 2020 theme of ‘Dying To Be Heard’ will focus on how to help by listening. Opinion polls show that only about a third of people have written a will or thought about their funeral, and even fewer have thought about their end of life care, or made a decision about organ donation.
Dr Lara Alloway, palliative care consultant and chief medical officer for the trust, which runs hospitals in Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester, said: “We are in challenging times, and it might be that more people are thinking about having these important conversations with their loved ones. It doesn’t have to be scary, but can make such a big difference at the time it matters most.
“Like all services across the trust, our palliative care team is working in new ways to provide the best possible care to our patients, as well as support staff and volunteers, and these conversations remain vital to ensure we can support people to live as well as possible until they die”
Hampshire Hospitals has a volunteer befriending service, which supports patients in their own homes and has shown to improve quality of life through the reduction of loneliness and isolation.
Since mid-March, the Hampshire Hospitals palliative care team have expanded this service in response to the pandemic, and have recruited 31 volunteers to become Palliative Care Community Support Volunteers.
During their first week, the volunteers telephoned 215 patients to check on their well-being and sign post them to any other support needed, such as shopping, befriending or prescription delivery.
These trained volunteers are all working from home, and are helping to maintain contact with palliative care patients in the community to ensure that they feel well supported during this difficult time.
The trust was the fifth trust in the UK (now used in over 150 trusts) to implement the ReSPECT process to ensure that patient’s voices are heard and their wishes are known. ReSPECT enables patients to discuss and document their wishes alongside clinical recommendations for care, including where they would like to be cared for, which can be referred to in an emergency if they are unable to make or express choices at that time.
Dying Matters is run by national hospice and palliative care charity Hospice UK, and brings together a broad coalition of organisations related to dying and bereavement.
Tracey Bleakley, the CEO of Hospice UK said: “I hope many people will take advantage of this chance to talk about a difficult topic in a friendly and supportive way. It isn’t easy to talk about death, but it’s important that we all do.”