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Trust committed to providing quality End of Life care for patients

Published 11/05/2018

Derby Teaching Hospitals has launched a new initiative to help improve the level of care offered to patients coming to the end of their lives.   

The End of Life Care team’s ‘Pop Up Bedroom’ project aims to literally transform the environment of a hospital room for a patient who is in the last few days or hours of their life. 

This can be done by introducing a large screen alongside the length of a patient’s hospital bed depicting a range of different scenes, such as a forest or a sunset.

Reclining chairs for family and friends to stay with their loved ones overnight and visits from a ‘Pets as Therapy’ dog can also be made available, while the Trust’s arts charity Air Arts can arrange for music to be performed outside of the hospital ward.

The project was launched in time for Dying Matters Awareness Week, which begins on Monday, 14 May, and emphasises the importance of encouraging people to talk more openly about death and bereavement. 

Having the conversation about dying can allow patients to properly outline their plans and wishes, whilst also ensuring the right support can be put in place for families after their death.

Consultant in Palliative Medicine Dr Maelie Swanwick said: “We all shared BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans’ sadness when he revealed the death of his mother at the beginning of the month. In his memoirs, Chris listed the 10 best things about Mrs Evans Senior; perhaps it was number nine on the list: ‘her obsession with death and anything or anyone dying’, that made it easier to talk about death with her family and make her own wishes clear. Indeed, Chris himself pointed out that her death was ‘all OK, in fact very OK … there was no battle lost; only a life won every single day’. Talking about death won’t make it happen sooner but expressing our preferences for how we live and ultimately how we die can help those we leave behind and hopefully our loved ones will say ‘it was OK, very OK, it was a good death’.”

As well as aiming to remove the stigma associated with talking about dying for patients and their families, Dying Matters Awareness Week will also focus on the improvements that can be made across the services that are involved in caring for patients at the end of their lives. 

The Royal Derby Hospital will next week play host to a powerful play, aimed at health professionals and carers, focusing on the importance of providing the right care for patients coming to the end of their lives. 

‘Fighting For Life’ is based on the real life experiences of Allestree couple James and Joan Findlay and the challenges their family faced in trying to ensure they both received the palliative care they needed. 

Joan lived with dementia for 10 years before passing away in April 2008, with husband James caring for her at home for eight years until he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and tragically died just seven weeks later in December 2005. 

Following James’ death, the Findlay family wrote a report which detailed the challenges they faced to get their parents the care and support they both needed and made a number of recommendations on how the health and social care system could improve. 

Daughter Helen Findlay, who commissioned ‘Fight For Life’, said: “The intention of the play is to engage those watching it to have conversations about End of Life care and to point out any problems. I felt that End of Life care just wasn’t being talked about enough and that there was a lack of communication between different services. The whole experience really made me realise how important palliative care nurses are. There are things that you need to know in this area in advance, because it is hard to know which way to turn when it happens to you. It’s so important that people can talk about death and bereavement and plan ahead for what might happen. There’s a lack of knowledge about what palliative care means and this is about changing those perceptions.”

The play will take place on Thursday, 17 May, and will be followed by a question and answer session with a panel of experts. 

The University of Derby is also today hosting a public event promoting the importance of talking about death that will include a range of short sessions delivered by Consultants in Palliative Medicine and academics. The event will be held at the university’s Kedleston Road campus, in Lecture Theatre T008, from 11am-2pm. 

Sharan Watson, Post Graduate Lecturer for Health and Social Care at the University of Derby, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership developments in supporting National Dying Matters Awareness Week by launching our Derbyshire events at our public event at the University of Derby. Our conference provides opportunities for our community, public, students, staff and health and social care professionals to promote the importance of talking about death and to support conversations in our wider community about the importance of thinking about the little differences we can all make.”

Further information about this event can be found here: https://www.derby.ac.uk/newsevents/events/calendar/dying-matters.php  

Last Modified 11/05/2018