Dying Matters Week: How can society deal with death better
Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 | Raising Awareness
55.3 million people die each year worldwide, yet only 4% of those who die in acute hospital settings have an advanced care plan.
This figure demonstrates how poorly prepared the majority of society is to deal with death and end-of-life care. Yet, when it is such an inevitable part of life for each and everyone one of us, we have to question why so few prepare appropriately – not only for their own benefit and end-of-life comfort, but also for their friends and family.
Naturally, here at Kare Plus, care and end-of-life planning is particularly close to our hearts – with our Care Managers, HCAs, Support Workers and Nurses all playing integral parts of the creating, implementing and supporting care plans and even after-death support for family and friends.
As previously mentioned though, very, very few people actually take advantage of these services that are available to them from a variety of different suppliers, organisations and care providers. Society needs to be more comfortable with dealing and talking about death in order for end-of-life to be more comfortable and less stressful for all involved – dying is perhaps the only certainty for us all, so we shouldn’t be afraid to accept the inevitable.
To help overcome these issues, below are five ways everyone should plan their end-of-life care and how this can help society be better prepared to deal with death.
1) Plan ahead – When you become seriously ill, the last thing you will want to be doing is arranging care plans, writing a will or organising a funeral. It will also help put your relatives at ease as they know, whatever happens, you are cared for and your best interests are being looked after.
2) Write an advance statement – You may not have ever heard of an advance statement before, but loosely defined it is a set of non-legally binding guidelines dictating how you would like to be cared for when, or even if, the time comes. This can include everything from whether you like to sleep with the light on through to where you would like to receive your care and is written by yourself, with the help of relatives and friends if you so wish.
3) Create a care plan – A care plan is a set of detailed guidelines defining how your care will be carried out. It differs from an advance statement because it is created with the local authority based on an assessment that occurs when you become ill and start to require care. It considers all of your current needs, personal budget and personal wishes. It means that all of your care requirements are catered for and, if / when you deteriorate, your needs and wants will still be considered and met without further meetings and stress. It also provides piece of mind for your family.
4) Make a will* – We all know what a will is and we all know we should write one, yet too many of us put it to the bottom of our ‘to-do’ list and, inevitably, it never gets done. When this happens, and someone dies without a will, law dictates what happens to your estate, which can lead to years of trauma for your relatives, trying to overturn the decision or come to terms with the loss of, perhaps sentimental or personal belongings. As already mentioned, trying to write a will once you have fallen critically ill can be extremely difficult for yourself and put additional stress on relatives.
5) Communicate with the people that matter – Perhaps the most important part of your end of life plans is openly talking with your close friends and family. It may be taking the opportunity to say goodbye, the opportunity to make amends or the opportunity to reassure but it is also your chance to make yourself comfortable and put yourself at ease.
Kare Plus has written this article in support of Dying Matters Week, this year discussing the ‘Big Conversation’ and encouraging society to be better prepared and open regarding death and dying. If you would like to learn more about the awareness week, visit the website here.
*For a will to be legally binding, it must be witnessed and signed. We also recommend seeking advice before writing one.