West Midlands hosts major conference on end of life care

15 May 2013
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and the Dying Matters Coalition are holding a major national conference on end of life and bereavement care on Friday (17 May) as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week.

The event, which is being held at St Andrews, the home of Birmingham City FC, will see delegates from across the country discuss how to ensure good end of life care and support for the half a million people who die in Britain each year, as well as for those who have been bereaved.

Lord HuntChaired by former Health Minister and Chairman of the Heart of England NHS Foundation, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, pictured, speakers at the conference include Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer for England, Mandie Sunderland, the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Nurse, and Eve Richardson, who leads the Dying Matters Coalition.

The conference is part of a pioneering programme of work aimed at improving the care people receive at the end of their life which was recently launched by the Dying Matters Coalition in partnership with Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

We will be working with the Chief Nurse of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and her team on a compassionate care training programme over three years so that all 6,000 nurses across the Trust’s three Hospitals – Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull – and their community services will be better placed to care for and support people at the end of their lives. Alongside this, Dying Matters and the Trust will also be developing an improved compassionate employment programme aimed at supporting staff in the Trust who are affected by end of life issues. 

The conference takes place as new British Social Attitudes research commissioned by Dying Matters finds that many of us still aren’t talking about our end of life wishes. Although the majority of people (63%) in the West Midlands say they are comfortable talking about death, most people in the region haven’t done anything to discuss their end of life wishes or put plans in place. Just 36% of people across the West Midlands have a will, only 29% say they have registered as an organ donor or have a donor card, only one in ten have written down their funeral wishes and just one in fifty has an advance care plan, setting out how they would want to be cared for at the end of life if they couldn’t make decisions themselves.

Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition and the National Council for Palliative Care, said: “We are delighted that this important event is taking place during Dying Matters Awareness Week. By planning ahead it’s much easier to provide compassionate care at the end of life and to ensure that people’s wishes are met. There are five simple actions that everyone can take to make life easier for themselves and their loved ones when they die. These are writing a will, recording funeral wishes, explaining how and where people want to be cared for at the end of life, considering organ donation and talking things through with loved ones.”

Lord Philip Hunt, Chairman of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Events like this where people can discuss and understand the impact of their care and look at ways of working collaboratively to ensure the end of life and bereavement care provided is of the highest quality are so important. It is essential to ensure that bereaved relatives are provided with the right information, support and guidance, at the right time, by the right people all along the bereavement journey.”

Mandie Sunderland, Chief Nurse of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, added: “The importance of getting end of life care right for both patients and their families is critical to good quality health care. We are committed at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust to improving this experience in every way that we can. Compassionate nursing is essential and we are delighted to be working with the Dying Matters Coalition on this national project”


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