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It’s Dying Matters Week

Dying Matters – are you in a good place?

This Dying Matters Awareness Week, (10-16 May), the palliative care team at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust is encouraging families to think about what is important to them at the end of life, to talk about it and to plan for it, so that we are better prepared to support our loved ones when they are nearing end of life.

The focus of Dying Matters Week 2021 is the importance of being in a good place to die. Recent years have seen a change in where people die, with more people dying at home and out of hospital. The pandemic over this last year has seen this number increase even more.

Helen Meehan, RUH Lead Nurse for Palliative Care and End of Life, said: “There is no right or wrong place to die – it will be different for everyone. But it is important for families to think about it, to talk about it and to plan for it.  We want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care in place. Getting there means having some important conversations about what matters to the individual and their family in relation to end of life care, dying and bereavement.

“Not many of us express a wish for where we might die, many of us would wish to be at home if asked, but for many it is hospital where people are cared for in the last days of life.

“The COVID pandemic has brought so many challenges – especially caring for those at the end for life and their families, but we have such a responsibility for ensuring that we provide compassionate, supportive and dignified care at this time.”

End of life care at the RUH, which has been rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, is supported by the RUH’s charity The Forever Friends Appeal. It has recently funded Memory Boxes supplied to every ward to help create special memories and keepsakes for patients nearing end of life and their families. It also supplies bereavement bags, providing a sensitive way of returning personal belongings to family members. The design on the bags uses the butterfly symbol which is used across the hospital to identify priorities of care. More information and details of how to donate to the Butterfly Fund can be found here.

Another initiative is the Compassionate Companion Service, in partnership with Dorothy House Hospice Care and funded by RUH’s charity, The Forever Friends Appeal with a grant from the Sperring Trust. This service enables specially-trained volunteers to offer support, compassionate listening, comfort and companionship to patients in their last days of life at the hospital.

The Chaplaincy team has helped to arrange marriages at short notice under a special license for patients nearing the end of life. The RUH palliative care team has also created special wedding boxes that contain bunting, fairy lights, ceramic hearts as a keepsake gift, flowers, bubbles and a wedding card, which the wards can request to support the marriage of a couple when time is so precious.

For more information visit the Dying Matters website.