Finding out that someone you know is at the end of their life is naturally very difficult and distressing. It is already a highly emotive time but, for many people, the additional worry about coronavirus has made things much harder.
To understand more about this, and also how people feel support could have been improved for them or someone they know, Healthwatch Suffolk is asking for your help. Together with local NHS and care services, the aim is to ultimately help improve care and support for people who are dying in local communities or in the care of services (e.g. hospitals, care homes or hospices).
You can take part in a short survey about the care and support your relative or friend received in the last few months of their life.
Andy Yacoub, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: “We can’t take away the loss of a friend or relative but, with your help and personal experiences, we can help improve end of life support for many people in our local communities. Something made all the more vital by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By working so closely with local NHS and support services, we hope to ensure that the best possible support is available when people need it now and into the future. Please get in touch and have a conversation with us if you can. We’ll take the time to listen with compassion and make sure that your story is heard where it matters.”
The survey also explores how you have felt supported and what could have made things easier for you as a carer. There is also the option of taking part in a telephone interview.
For the purposes of this survey, you can take part if you have experienced the death of an adult relative or friend since the beginning of 2020. Their death may have been unexpected (e.g. caused by coronavirus), or it may have been after a period of serious illness during which time they had thought about their wishes for end of life care.
Whatever the circumstances, all views are welcome and will improve support for people at the end of life in Suffolk and north east Essex. All responses to the survey are anonymous.
For more information, and to take part, visit www.healthwatchsuffolk.co.uk/endoflifesurvey or call freephone 0800 448 8234 if you need help to complete it. Free and confidential signposting advice is also available using this number.
Lisa Nobes, Chief Nurse of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “Although death is a part of life and no one can prevent it, it is important that those at the end of life can achieve a good death, meaning they are free from physical and mental distress or suffering.
“Family and friends too need compassionate and practical support during the time leading up to death and afterwards in dealing with grief and loss.
“The work being undertaken by Healthwatch Suffolk will really support the efforts of the local health and care system to further improve end of life care, and I hope people will take time to share their experiences and give their views.”
Dr Barbara Gale, Chief Executive of St Nicholas Hospice Care, said: “Facing one’s own death or that of a loved one is hard, but the last months have presented some special difficulties for people who are dying and those important to them.
“By taking part in this survey you can help everyone providing support to people at the end of their lives understand what can be done to improve things and learn from your experiences – what went well and what could have been better.”