Be ready for it

by Simon Jones Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Wales New research shows that the majority of people across Wales have not discussed or made any plans for when they die, and are at risk of not getting appropriate end of life care, making it harder for their families to deal with bereavement. The research, commissioned by Dying Matters – a broad based coalition of organisations including Marie Curie, which encourages everyone to prepare for the end of life – also reveals that although 67% of people in Wales say they are comfortable talking about death, most people haven’t done anything to discuss their end of life wishes or put plans in place. Death is also the main topic of a Cardiff “festival for the living about death”.  Before I Die will see a series of arts events linked to death and dying.  The event, at Cardiff University until 20 May, aims to tackle the taboo of asking about death and encourage people to think about their end of life wishes.  The festival forms part of Dying Matters Week, promoted by the National Council for Palliative Care.  It also follows hot on the heels of the Welsh government’s new End of Life Care Delivery Plan, which also highlights the importance of being prepared to have honest and open conversations about the end of life. Even if you’ve planned well ahead for the end of life, it’s important to let those around you know what your wishes are, or you could run the risk of them not being carried out.  In particular, it is important to consider where you would prefer to die. Most people who are terminally ill say that they would prefer to die somewhere other than in hospital.  Yet we know too many people die in hospital, without medical reason. As a leading end of life care charity, we pride ourselves on providing services which enable people to die where they wish.  In Wales, we work alongside the NHS and others to provide specialist care and services that support people, if they wish, to remain in their home or place of care at the end of life, completely free of charge. We know that preparing and planning for the end of life with the involvement of family, carers and professionals is essential to receiving the best possible care. This week, Dying Matters is asking everyone to take small actions to be ready for the end of life, such as writing a will, making funeral wishes known and letting those close to them know how they would want to be cared for and where they would prefer to spend their remaining days. Are you ready for it?