Fylde coast residents are being encouraged to talk openly about their own end of life wishes as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week 2014 (12 May – 18 May).

Planning for the end of life is often an overlooked and sensitive subject, but is an essential one for all people young and old.

NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG are encouraging local people to talk openly about dying, death and bereavement.

This can be through sharing your wishes with someone close, registering to become an organ donor, writing a will, considering taking out a funeral plan or making an effort to speak to a friend or relative about what their own wishes are.

Although it is sometimes hard for lots of people to think about the end of life, it is an inevitable occurrence and is a topic which needs serious planning and discussion. Here is a list of suggested things people should consider when planning for those last weeks, months and years of life.

  • Start to make a plan: You need to consider the kind of care you would like towards the end of your life. This includes where you would like to be cared for and if there is any treatment you know you would not want even if it meant that your life might be shorter for not having it.
  • Consider legal and financial matters: Make a will as soon as possible, seeking legal help if required. This legally binding document means your wealth, however big or small has to be distributed the way you set out. Organising a Lasting Power of Attorney should also be considered.
  • How would you like to be remembered?: Are there any messages you would like to leave for loved ones? Lasting reminders, such as a ‘memory box’ or video messages are a great way to provide loved ones with lasting fond memories. These can be started at any age.
  • Plan funeral arrangements: Decide whether you would like to be buried or cremated when you die. Think about what kind of service you would like and don’t be afraid to plan what you want.
  • Organ donation: An organ transplant can dramatically improve or save someone’s life, but they depend entirely on the generosity of donors and their families.

Dr Adam Janjua, a GP and End of Life Clinical Lead at NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “It is never too early to start thinking about what you want to happen towards the end of your life. There are still things you can put in place for the future, even if this is not something on your horizon just now.

“Death and dying is considered to be a sensitive subject, but that shouldn’t mean we avoid it completely. It is one of the only things in our lives that we can guarantee is going to happen and so thinking about plans for when you die is very important.”

Dr Amanda Doyle, Chief Clinical Officer of NHS Blackpool CCG, added: “There are a number of things when planning end of life care which need careful planning and discussion with loved ones. I encourage everybody to talk openly about their own wishes and listen to friends or relatives wishes. It is essential that these issues are discussed and not shied away from.”

A community event funded by the CCGs will be held at Trinity Hospice, Bispham on Friday 16 May from 9.30am until approximately 3.30pm. The event titled ‘Living and dying well’ will include exhibitions and speakers offering practical advice about living well into old age with a focus on living well with dementia.

Non-health professionals caring for the elderly and any interested members of the public are encouraged to attend. Representatives from advocacy services, carers groups and faith groups will also be in attendance.

Places for the event are limited and will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. You can complete a booking form by visitingwww.blackpoolccg.nhs.uk or www.fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk. There is no charge to attend the event. Refreshments and a buffet lunch will also be provided.

If you would like any further information regarding the event please email joanne.nicholls@trinityhospice.co.uk or call 01253 359386.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Making a plan:

It is possible to refuse treatments, in advance, by making an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (living will) and giving a copy to your doctor and to your next of kin. This would only be referred to if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. If you have not made an Advance Decision, and become so ill that you are unable to make decisions for yourself about your end of life care, your next of kin will be consulted by medical staff to help them to find out what is known of your previously expressed wishes, in order to help them to make decisions in your best interests.

You can read more about this at www.adrt.nhs.uk.

If these are things which are important to you, then it is wise to make and document decisions early in case you become unable to decide at a later date.

You can nominate a proxy (person) to make health decisions for you, should you become unable. Most people do not feel the need to do this but you may want to consider this is you are alone and have no family. This is called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and welfare and is different from the more commonly known LPA for property and finances.

  • Consider legal and financial matters:

If you die without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how your money, property or possessions should be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished.

You can read more on this by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/make-will.

Organising a Lasting Power of Attorney (for property and affairs) is also possible. It means nominating a next of kin, a close friend or your solicitor to take care of your personal finances, property and other assets should you become unable to do it yourself.

  • Plan funeral arrangements

What kind of ceremony would you like? Do you want it to be a celebration of your life or the conventional ceremony? Consider which music, hymns and readings you would like as well as people you want to attend. Write this down and give to family members or put it in your will.

  • Organ donation

Family and friends can overrule your decision to donate your organs after your death, so it is important to discuss your wishes with themas organ and tissue donation will be discussed with them in the event of your death.

You can join the register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt, or by calling NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 23 23.

For further information please contact the media team at NHS Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit by emailingjonathan.bridge@lancashirecsu.nhs.uk or call 01772 214213.