News News Why dying matters In support of the national Dying Matters campaign, which runs from 2 to 6 May 2022, Katharine House is encouraging people of all ages to talk to their families and friends about the kind of care they want and expect when they’re approaching death. Statistics show that since the start of the pandemic, almost 70,000 people have died at home without access to specialist care. Here our CEO Trevor Johnson explains why it’s so important to talk about death, dying and grief. Why Dying Matters This week is Dying Matters Week - an opportunity for the hospice sector to have a conversation about death and dying. Many people are frightened about who hospices are and what they do. We think that we have had conversations about the subject with loved ones. However, these conversations are often centred around the things that happen after you die: songs you want played at your funeral; whether you want a burial or cremation; family members you’d prefer weren’t invited to the funeral! These are all important conversations but there is something missing – what do you want your care to look like? Most of us don’t know until it’s too late that they have options, and many people do not access the support that is available. This is partly due to fear - it can feel very real to talk about dying - and partly because we just don’t understand what the options are. However, if you leave it too late, the decisions are likely to be made by others, and however well-meaning they are, they may not be what you want. Do you want to die at home? Do you want to engage with hospice services? Do you want your family to care for you until the end? Do you want to go to hospital because you are in pain, and don’t know what else to do? These are all important questions that many of us just never consider. The implications can be far reaching. Dying at home feels the best option for some, but what do your family feel about that? This may mean that they see you die. Are they prepared for that, and are you? How will they access support to process their grief? The #InAGoodPlace Dying Matters campaign can help you have these conversations. There are a host of resources to help you here. See, for example, the Hospice UK information on: Planning ahead Death and dying: what to expect How Katharine House Hospice can help you Make sure that you and your family are ‘In A Good Place’. Have conversations about your wishes for all aspects of your care. Reach out to organisations like hospices to find out what support can be offered. You may be surprised. For example, did you know that at Katharine House, our support goes well past just the inpatient unit (vital though it is). We offer: bereavement support and counselling a Living Well day service to enable you to make the most of life while you or your loved one is ill, which includes a companions service to provide information and support, as well as spiritual care and much more community care in the home and at hospital social support care for families. If you have been diagnosed with an incurable illness, are you in the right place for you? Physically? Mentally? Spiritually? It is important to understand this at an early stage and determine what support is available for you and your loved ones. This means understanding that hospice care is not just for the final days. Hospices provide support for much, much longer, and care for the whole family not just the person who is ill. Hospices also help you to understand what is happening and what the journey will look like – no one should need to spend time on Google just to understand what is happening to someone they love. Dying is the one thing that we can all be certain of, that’s why ‘Dying Matters’ and why these conversations are so important. Do your loved ones know what to expect and what you want? Do you? If the answer to those questions isn’t yes, then it’s time for the conversation to begin, before it is too late.