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Every year, Dying Matters Awareness Week is held to encourage communities, individuals and organisations to come together and open up the conversation around death, dying and bereavement.
This year the awareness week is running from 10th-16th May and, and as part of the weeklong initiative the Colchester based hospice is collaborating with St Elizabeth Hospice, in Ipswich, and St Nicholas Hospice Care, in Bury St Edmunds, to promote ways communities can support one another during difficult times in their lives through their involvement in the Compassionate Communities project.
Nicola Button, head of partnerships at St Helena Hospice, said: “Dying Matters Awareness Week is as good a time as any to talk about dying and death. It can be an awkward and uncomfortable subject to approach but it is so important to have these conversations with our loved ones about what we want to happen at the end of life, where we want to be, and to share our wishes.
“As well as talking about it, it’s just as vital that we listen to loved ones when they’re trying to have these conversations. Sadly because of the pandemic, people are becoming unwell more quickly and families are separated, so in some cases, people aren’t able to have these conversations; so take the time now, whilst you can, to sit down with those close to you and talk about what’s important to you and them.”
Compassionate Communities is a national approach which supplements the support given by healthcare providers, by offering resources and guidance to enable the public to feel more confident in having conversations surrounding the ‘taboo’ topics of bereavement, death and dying.
Nicola added: “St Helena is in the early days of developing our Compassionate Communities project, and we’re delighted to be working with our neighbouring hospices to share learnings and best practices to help shape the future of the project.
“Our aim with Compassionate Communities is to educate and empower our local community so they feel more able to cope with issues of dying, death and bereavement; to ensure all dying people in the area and their families are supported to achieve the end of life wishes that matter to them; and to address and reduce the inequity in access to end of life care for minority and hard to reach groups.”
The collaboration between the three hospices will see them host a number of online events which will offer guidance and equip the public to support each other with kindness during some of the most difficult times in their lives, such as the death of a loved one or the diagnosis of a serious illness.
More than 30 events will be held both online and in person during the awareness week including ‘Care and loss during COVID - How do we Heal?’, “We’re all going to die, so let’s talk about death”, an open and frank conversation between two young men and ‘Thinking ahead – planning for end of life’.
A number of practical online workshops will also be hosted, for the public to learn more about Compassionate Communities and support available for bereavement and end-of-life care, with a full programme of activities available to view at www.compassionatecommunitieseast.com
St Helena Hospice helps local people face incurable illness and bereavement, supporting them, their families, friends and carers. It also helps adults in north east Essex who have been bereaved, regardless of how or where their loved one died.
To find out more or to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about St Elizabeth Hospice can be found by visiting www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/compassion/ and further details about St Nicholas Hospice Care can be found at www.stnicholashospice.org.uk.
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