The nine issues that people affected by cancer have told Macmillan Cancer Support matter most to them include clinical outcomes as well as the impact of cancer on the whole of a person’s life. Dorset Macmillan Advocacy tries to measure the impact of its service with reference to these outcomes. Where possible we participate in networking and training to inform our understanding of each outcome and how we might better support people affected by cancer. ‘I want to die well’ is one outcome which has led us to take part in the Dorset Compassionate Communities network and to participate in training by the Hospice Education Alliance on Advance Care Planning as well as to mark the annual Dying Matters Awareness week.
Bournemouth Older People’s Forum held an interactive workshop entitled ‘Good Endings’ in May as part of the national Dying Matters week: ‘You only die once’. BOP Chair Pat Lewis invited the Dorset Macmillan Advocacy team at Help and Care to assist. Emma Jones, a first year student at Bournemouth University studying Social Work, was on placement at Help and Care and worked with us to plan and deliver the session.
‘I had attended a BOP meeting earlier in the year and was impressed by the information provided and range of topics discussed.
Prior to planning this workshop I knew very little about the subject of death, and in particular putting plans in place for this. It was a topic of conversation that I had not explored and something that I felt uncomfortable thinking about. The more I read about planning for and thinking about one’s death the more I understood and appreciated the importance of thinking about and preparing for the practical aspects that need to be considered such as whether you would like to be buried or cremated, would you like to donate an organ and what music you’d like to be played at your funeral, all of which are important things to think about. Not thinking about these and not discussing with friends or family would mean that they would be faced with making the decisions for you which can be a daunting task.
I’ve learnt the value of preparation and planning for departure which can make the world of difference, not only in helping to make one feel happier and have some control over their future plans but also for loved ones who do not then have the responsibility to make such significant and potentially challenging decisions on your behalf.
The workshop was received well, everyone participated and we received some positive feedback. In particular, I found the varying responses and opinions surrounding what was important to each individual really interesting and this emphasised that we are all individuals and what is important to one person, such as making a will, may not be important to another.’
We aimed to introduce the idea of Advance Care Planning in a practical way. Participants enjoyed the interactive nature of the session and particularly the upbeat ‘wrap up’ that Pat suggested, and which Emma led, where we looked to the future and shared our ideas for one new, different or challenging thing that we would like to have a go at in the next year.