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Making choices about the end of life

11th April 2019

Most people want to die at home, but the reality is that the majority of us are spending our last days in hospital.

Empowering people at the end of life

We talked about dying and how to make sure that your wishes are followed as you approach death, at our Empowering People at the End of Life event last month.

More than 100 people attended the day of workshops and talks.

Dr Phil Hartropp, a retired Cambridgeshire GP and specialist in end of life care, was our keynote speaker.

Quoting Shakespeare, he talked about how we see death as a ‘fearful thing’. This fear can make people put off having the conversations that could help them take control of the last few months of their lives.

There are legal documents that you can put in place so that your decisions are known to the health and care staff who are looking after you. This will help make sure that your wishes are respected as you are dying.

Information to help you at the end of life

  1. Mental Capacity
    When you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself, your rights are protected by the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. Click here to find out more about your rights under the mental capacity act.
  2. Lasting Power of Attorney
    This is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make decisions or act on your behalf if you are not able to do this yourself any more. There are different types of power of attorney and you can set up more than one. Click here to find out more.
  3. Advance Decision (Living Will)
    An Advance Decision allows you to write down any treatments that you don’t want to have in the future, in case you later become unable to make or tell people your decisions. You can write an Advance Decision yourself. Click here to find out more.

Thank you to our workshop speakers

We would like to thank our speakers for giving their time to run workshops on the day. Thank you to:

  • Loice Zhanda from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, who talked about the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.
  • Jane Ollett and Minna Rae of Leeds Day Solicitors who talked about Power of Attorney.
  • Paul Stacey and Petra Patty from Thera who talked about Safe and Secure. This is a system to put support in place for someone you care for, so that they are looked after, after your death. Click here to find out about Safe and Secure.
  • Karen Andrew from Skills for Care shared the story of Bounce Back Boy. Josh Cawley was 22 when he finally died from the catastrophic injuries his birth parents inflicted on him. These resulted in his inability to speak or to move from his wheelchair. Skills for care train staff to support people at the end of their life. Click here to find out Josh’s story and watch the play about his experience.

Thank you also to Healthwatch England who sent a photographer along on the day – click here to see the photos on Flickr. We will be using these pictures to help us tell people about Healthwatch.

What’s next

During this event we asked people about the conversations they have had with their family and friends about their own end of life choices. We wanted to know what would make these conversations easier.

We are currently writing a report about the event and will publish this after the local elections. The report will include any recommendations we have for health and care organisations to improve people’s experiences of end of life care.