This week (8 – 14 May) marks Dying Matters Awareness Week, and Nottingham Hospitals Charity is taking the opportunity to encourage people in the local community to talk about leaving a gift to charity after their death.
Through their desire to leave a lasting legacy to enhance services and staff support in Nottingham’s hospitals, patients nearing the end of their lives often take the opportunity to speak to staff about putting their affairs in order.
Death is often considered a somewhat taboo topic of discussion, but it’s something that happens to all of us and Dying Matters Awareness Week aims to break down the stigma and get people talking about bereavement and dying.
On a daily basis Nottingham Hospitals Charity supports bereaved families who want to raise money in memory of a lost loved one. In memory giving is a wonderful way to remember someone special and support a cause that was important to them.
One area of the hospital which the Charity supports is Hayward House palliative care centre, which is a hospice-style environment where patients can receive treatment for advanced, progressive and terminal illnesses, as well as end of life care.
Rebecca Bentley, ward sister at Hayward House, says: “I think it’s incredibly important to get away from the taboo of talking about dying. Everybody dies – whether they’ve got a terminal illness or not – and we’re trying to encourage open discussions about it so that important things don’t get left until the last minute.
“A good way to broach the subject is to think about the five ‘W’s – who, what, why, where and when. So this might mean talking about who is dying, or talking about who is left behind. It might be talking about what they want to happen before the end of their life, or what they want to happen afterwards. It’s an open-ended way of starting a conversation about it.
“It may sound like a cliché, but you only die once, so getting it right is important. We want to know what we can do to contribute to making a patient’s final days better – just talking about things might help, or a patient might want help getting their affairs in order before they die. You just have to follow the patient’s lead.”
Rebecca adds: “Dying Matters Awareness Week is not just about patients. We’re trying to get staff talking about dying too – it’s going to happen to all of us, after all. One way we’re introducing the topic is by encouraging everyone – staff, patients, visitors – to write down one thing they want to do before they die. It’s a good way to start a conversation not just about death, but about what we want to do before we get there.”
John Matthews, from Lambley, is a patient at Hayward House, and says he isn’t scared of talking about dying.
“As soon as knew I was terminal I spoke to my sister and we arranged the funeral. I want to do family flowers only, then donations. I’ve chosen what I will be wearing – my Forest football shirt. I call it my “going away” outfit. I will be buried on a plot with my mum – it’s a family plot.
“It doesn’t upset me, talking about it. Whatever happens will happen.”
John wants family and friends to donate to Hayward House at his funeral, in thanks for the care he has received there.
”It’s absolutely fantastic at Hayward House,” he says. “It’s the best place to be, and the staff are first class.”
On Thursday staff from across Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust will hold a conference at the Queen’s Medical Centre about the importance of talking to patients about dying.
Alongside this, staff from Nottingham Hospitals Charity will hold an information stall where attendees can find out more about Hayward House, in memory giving, leaving gifts in Wills and other ways in which people can support the Charity.
“Many people opt to help their chosen area of Nottingham’s hospitals by leaving a gift in their Will to Nottingham Hospitals Charity,” said the Charity’s Chief Executive Barbara Cathcart. “In fact, around one third of the Charity’s annual income is from gifts left in Wills, much of which is only a small percentage of their estate but it makes a huge difference for our hospitals. For just a small input, gifts left in Wills can have a huge impact on the care of future patients at Nottingham’s hospitals.”
To find out more about making a donation, leaving a gift in your Will or supporting Hayward House, please call Nottingham Hospitals Charity on 1105 962 7905, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nottinghamhospitalscharity.org.uk
We are extremely grateful to the many people each year who think of Nottingham’s hospitals when preparing their Wills, and consider making a final gift to us as a testament to the care that they have received here. Their families are often supportive of their choice; it is a way of celebrating their lives, while knowing that they are helping others who will come after them. We have achieved amazing improvements through their generosity and recognition, including buying specialist equipment and transforming services.