Death and Dying – Advance Care Planning

Coventry Quaker Alison Payne shares the experience of her local meeting discussing the issue of death and dying, in particular advance care planning.

On Sunday 25 February Coventry Quakers gathered after Meeting for Worship to look at Advance Care Planning. As a family doctor who wants to provide holistic care, making sure my patients’ wishes are respected is a priority. If I don’t know what they are, this can be a real challenge for me, my clinical and social care colleagues and for my patients’ loved ones.

Last month Maggie McHale and I facilitated a session where we explored our own attitudes to death and dying, talking about spiritual and psychological issues around the concept of death. This laid the foundations for a session on the practical side of things.

The second session was about how to ensure that our wishes about our final months / weeks / days / hours are conveyed. Hopefully they can be acknowledged and respected even if we are not able to express ourselves. In health care we call this ‘advance care planning’.

The evidence is that those who are left behind are greatly comforted when a loved one has had some control over the circumstances of their death. Of course this is not always possible, but having something to work with and aim for is really helpful for health and care professionals too.

We also talked about appointing someone to legally represent us if we are unable to speak for ourselves.

Olivia Bowskill from Myton Hospice gave a presentation about what the hospice has to offer – I think people were surprised at the breadth of care and support on offer, both physical, social, psychological and spiritual, to those who have a life limiting diagnosis (not just cancer!) both at home, in their clinic and as an in-patient.

Relevant websites for advance care planning (including the facility to download a pack and create an advance decision on paper – as well as the link to do it all on line and then print it out to be witnessed) are:

Alison is happy to answer queries from Friends, her details are in the book of members.

This article originally appeared in the Coventry Quakers Newsletter.