Death is a certainty that we all face and can be a time of distress for not only the person whose life is ending, but the loved ones they are leaving behind. When asked, most people express preferences about their end of life such as wanting to die at home. But few people currently have conversations about this. A short film hopes to change that, and encourage people to let loved ones and health professionals know their wishes.

The fictional film follows a person diagnosed with cancer through preparations made for his death. It shows how NHS staff and family members can help to support a person who is dying. It can be viewed on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKGDzCRZuwM
The film was launched to around 70 health professionals, councillors and members of the public at an event on Friday (11 October) which was organised and supported by the local NHS, social care, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Dying Matters Coalition.

Graeme Hendry, Clinical Nurse Specialist for End of Life Care at Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This short film follows one couple’s journey, as they face the realities of a life limiting illness. It explores the benefits of identifying our dying wishes – whatever they may be – and sharing them with those we love and those who may care for us in our final hours.

“Dying is not an easy subject for many people to talk about but hopefully this film will help people address what can be a very difficult topic.”

The film talks about how discussing personal wishes for end of life can help the person who is dying and their loved ones. It helps a person to express wishes such as where they would like to die and who they would like to be around them.

It features the My Wishes end of life electronic register which can support this and help health professionals to know what a person wants at the end of their life. The register is held online and can be accessed by health professionals involved in the person’s care at the end of life.

The film also shows how district nurses, GPs, the palliative care 24 hour support line and bereavement counsellors can help support the patient and loved ones at a difficult time.

Dr Rosie Loftus, NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s lead GP on end of life and advisor for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The film offers a fascinating insight into the challenges we will all face one day, whether as patient, relative or carer.

“The film helps people realise that it’s OK to talk about dying and decide how they would like to be treated at the end of their life. It also reminds professionals of the support available to help patients at the end of their life.”

The film is the result of work by Medway NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and Medway Community Healthcare and was part funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

For more information about the My Wishes register and other services to support people at the end of their life talk to your GP.

Anyone interested in being part of a new Dying Matters group being set up in Medway to encourage people to talk about end of life should contact Graeme Hendry on 01634 825212 or Graeme.Hendry@medway.nhs.uk

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