Talking end of life with South West health professionals

Last week Healthwatch Cornwall took part in a healthcare professional learning event ‘Communication, Conversation and Choices at the End of Your Life’ run by Elite3Consultancy.

Representatives from across the health and care sector delved in to one of the most difficult subjects of all: death, dying and how to sensitively approach personal choices at end of life and beyond. Natalie Swann, Healthwatch Cornwall's Research Manager, presented key findings from the end of life research undertaken in 2018. Natalie also shared the poignant story of Maggie Vale’s experience with the care of her husband John at the end of his life. Maggie’s story has become a vital source of reference within professional end of life education in the County.

Delegates took part in a thought-provoking exercise discovering their own techniques for conversation starters when approaching difficult discussions with patients, family and themselves as to their wishes when life draws to a close. Discussions were candid and moving, we talked: funeral music /end of life/parties/burials/organ donation and wills.  A number of workshops followed on how to listen effectively and use the power of touch to communicate deep understanding and empathy. The day drew to a close having come to a shared understanding that as a society, we need to normalise conversations about death and dying. To better plan for our end of life is important, so that our experience of death and of those close to us, is as peaceful and cherished as possible.