Life expectancy in Dorset is good and it’s rising. But it’s only relatively recently that progressive illness has become the main cause of death in England. That brings obvious challenges for those caring for the people affected.
Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital’s Understanding Health talks for the public focussed on this difficult topic last month. Dr Ros Pugh and Dr Sean Weaver said ‘We believe its vital to talk about End of Life care’.
Dr Ros Pugh is consultant for End of Life care at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and is responsible for in-hospital care, the Macmillan Unit and community nursing. Dr Sean Weaver is a gastroenterologist who is also chair of the End of Life Steering Board for Dorset CCG and Associate Medical Director for Care and Governance at the Trust.
A short video by Dying Matters demonstated how many people feel its important to talk about End of Life and yet the great majority have not put plans in place – less than 50% of people have made a Will and only 11% have funeral wishes recorded.
‘Expressing and recording your views while you have the capacity to do so is important’ they said. When mental capacity is lost through sudden or progressive illness ‘it is so helpful to doctors and nurses to be able to understand what the person wants in terms of treatment and care’.
We heard about national and local initiatives to promote the benefits of advance planning to the public and to professionals. The Council’s Dorset For You website has a section dedicated to planning ahead.
The ‘take home message’ of the afternoon from the speakers was:
Please think about how you would like to be treated and where you would like to be. Think about your strong views on healthcare and make decisions now while you can. Express your views to someone whom you trust. Record your views and let people know that you have done so.