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Time to talk - Getting it right at the end of life

"I’m not afraid of dying I just don’t want to be there when it happens" – Woody Allen

Dealing with the inevitability of death is something we all have to face, but whilst we are healthy happy and active it is something that perhaps most people prefer not to think about, let alone talk about. However, we need to plan for the end of our lives in the same way plan for other important life events. 

This year the annual report focuses on the care people receive at the end of life, and how it can be improved.

However, for that to happen will require a fundamental change in the way we all deal with the prospect of life ending. It means people need to feel able to talk more readily about death and dying, particularly with their families and relatives and health and Care professionals.

Everyone finds it difficult to talk about death and dying – this extends from the individual to their friends and family, those working in health and care and society in general

Research has shown that health and care professionals find it just as difficult to talk about and plan for their own final years and find death a ‘difficult subject’ to raise with patients.

The report notes that helping people to have choice and better personal control can ensure personal wishes are met and  prevent unnecessary medical treatments and suffering in the last year of life. In ‘Our Commitment to you for end of life care’ the Government proposes changes to empower individuals approaching the end of life and better support health and care professionals in their care.

However, to do this we all need to be able to raise the issue with those important to us, ideally before the onset of serious illness. This way we can anticipate and share plans for the future rather than having to make important decisions (for example about health care) when someone is already seriously ill, or perhaps not able to make important decisions for themselves (for example if they have dementia).

In Staffordshire we will be having a public conversation over the next few months to see what you think. We hope you can join in with ‘Time to talk – getting it right at the end of life’.

2017 report

An executive summary of the Director of Public Health Report is available to download or you can read the full report.

Additional information

If you or someone you care for is nearing or planning for their death, the end of life care page can help you.

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