While the New Year is the perfect time to think about the future and make plans for the coming year, people tend not to want to think about how many years they have left and what plans they should put in place.
The local NHS in West Lancashire is encouraging people to talk openly about death, dying and bereavement and to make thinking about their end of life care one of their New Year’s resolutions.
It is important to think about what is important to you. Where would you like to be cared for? What religious or spiritual beliefs do you have? Who do you want to look after your children? Have you thought about who will look after your pet if you become ill? Who do you want to be with you at the end of your life? These are just some of the questions we are urging people to consider as part of their advance care planning.
Dr John Caine, a local GP and chair of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “By planning our end of life care in advance, we can make things a lot easier for ourselves and our loved ones when the time comes. Dying is one of the few things that we can all count on so it makes sense to be prepared and have plans in place.”
Dr Karen Groves, palliative care lead at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust and Queenscourt Hospice, said: “Thinking about and having conversations about the future will not bring death closer; it will just make sure we are ready for it when it comes. The important thing is letting people know what you want, no matter how small you think it is. Don’t be afraid to make decisions now – you can always change your mind.”
Advance care planning is the process of having a conversation with whoever provides care for you about your future care preferences and wishes – this could be with your GP or any other health professional. While you do not have to write your wishes down, it is a good way of ensuring your loved ones and healthcare professionals know what you want.
Your advance care plan could consist of an advanced statement which is written and signed, a named spokesperson, a lasting power of attorney and/or an advance decision to refuse treatment.
To find out more about planning for the end of life, visit www.dyingmatters.org.uk
NHS West Lancashire CCG has launched a community project to encourage people of all ages to think about what death, dying and bereavement means to them. The CCG will decorate a coffin with colourful and inspiring images that represent what the subject means to the people of West Lancashire. To find out how you can submit your entry which will appear on the coffin, visit www.westlancashireccg.nhs.uk/coffin
The CCG has also produced a video entitled ‘Your life, your death, your way’, which further highlights the importance of thinking about death and dying. The video is available to view via the following link: www.westlancashireccg.nhs.uk/resources/video/