Most common dying wish is to see a pet

11 October 2011
The most common dying wish from terminally ill hospice patients is to see a pet or animal, according to a poll of hospice staff by national charity Help the Hospices.

Sixty per cent of hospice staff said that one of the most popular requests from patients with life-limiting and terminal illnesses was to see a beloved pet or spend the day with a favourite animal.

This was closely followed by arranging romantic occasions such as weddings or date nights (57%) and celebrations and parties (50%), in the poll of 56 members of staff from hospices across the UK.

The poll marks Hospice Care Week (8 to 14 October 2011), when hospices all over the UK are raising awareness of how hospices help seriously ill people and their families to live well. The results show the diverse and inspiring ways that hospices have helped dying patients and their families to make the most of each day.

The top dying wishes were:
1. Seeing an animal or pet
2. Romantic occasions (eg weddings and date nights)
3. Celebrations or parties
4. Travelling to a meaningful destination
5. Favourite alcoholic drink
6. Religious occasions (eg living funeral, confirmation)
7. Special meal
8. Meeting a celebrity

Heather Richardson, national clinical lead for Help the Hospices, said: “For some people facing the end of life, it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference – like having a drink with friends, getting to a family birthday party or seeing a beloved pet. Others may have big goals that they would like to achieve – like travelling to a meaningful destination, marrying the love of their life or arranging a living funeral.

“Whatever means the most to someone – from weird and wonderful requests to simple wishes like being cared for in their own home – hospices go to amazing lengths to fulfil patients’ wishes as well as their clinical needs, and to help them to live well until they die. It can also be a profound comfort to bereaved family and friends to know that their loved one was able to fulfil a dream and live life to the full.”

Find out more about how hospices help people to live well at www.besurprised.org.uk

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