The national Dying Matters Awareness Week runs from 6 to 12 May and this year the campaign’s focus is aiming to encourage people to talk about death and dying as part of a national bid to improve palliative care. Here at Katharine House, we’re joining forces with hospices across the country to encourage communities to get talking in whatever way, shape or form works for them.

This year’s theme is ‘The way we talk about Dying Matters’, and focuses on the language people use, around death and dying – specifically between healthcare professionals and patients, their carers and their families.

The hospice’s Community Palliative Care team have hosted a symposium for local palliative care staff, discussing the conversations we have around death and dying. How we talk to children, and how families of dying people can be supported.

In addition, Katharine House is using Dying Matters to highlight our innovative and comprehensive online resources that aim to answer all the questions a person may have if they or their loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The End-of-life and Palliative Care (EPiC) resources feature information such as how to support children, dealing with grief in the workplace, coping with change and uncertainty, getting financial support, and what to expect when someone is dying

Mary Walding, Lead Specialist Nurse for Palliative Care for Katharine House and Sobell House Hospices, said that talking about death with loved ones is never easy, but having honest and transparent conversations about death and dying could help people feel informed, supported and empowered.

“The more we talk about death, the less scary it is – it happens to us all and we can’t avoid it, but those people whose relatives have been able to say the important things they want to say them, can die more peacefully and their relatives always have those words to remember.

“I would never say ‘let’s talk about death’ but I would listen for what people are telling me. I might ask ‘what’s most important to you?’ and see where the conversation leads us.

“Talking about dying won’t make it happen, won’t make it happen faster, but it will allow people the chance to say what is important.”

Read more about Mary in one of our ‘Meet the team’ interviews.

We have also taken the opportunity to chat to Harriet Devin, one of the Community Palliative Care team’s nurses, and Sarah Slatter, Family Support Worker in the inpatient team. Both Harriet and Sarah also offer advice on how best to approach the subject of death and dying with a loved one.

Learn more about talking about dying

Katharine House supports people affected by life-limiting illnesses, from diagnosis to end of life, providing holistic care that considers the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of a patient and their family and aiming to help people make the most of the time they have left and create quality memories with their loved ones.

To find out how you could help the Dying Matters Awareness Week cause, visit the Dying Matters website