Many hospices held death cafés for the first time, encouraging people to come together and talk about death in a peaceful and relaxing manner, as well as drop-in session where people could get advice on putting end of life plans in place.
Others put up ‘Before I die ..’ chalkboards in shopping centres, public libraries, and other locations to encourage people to think about what they would want to achieve before they die, and hopefully ‘kick-start’ the big conversations which people need to have with those close to them.
Elsewhere, St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice held a story-time with nursery children and a cheese and wine evening with grown-ups, while Pilgrims Hospice held a film night (showing The Lady in the Van).
While a number of hospices also held events for professionals; St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth held a conference for local health professionals where difficult conversations and strengthening partnerships were on the agenda.
Hospices also used the week to launch new initiatives.
For example, Friday saw the launch of the St Helens and Knowsley Citizens Charter for End of Life Care at Willowbrook Hospice’s new Living Well building. The charter, which was developed by the hospice in collaboration with local clinical commissioning groups, councils, hospitals and heathwatches, consists of 12 statements which outline what patients should expect when receiving care at the end of life.
Elsewhere, St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley launched a free bereavement toolkit, designed to help employers manage workplace bereavement, while St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice launched a new phone app to prompt people to talk about dying, death and bereavement.
Multimedia and social media
It was fantastic to see hospices make the most of multimedia and social media this week; coming up with innovative ways to get people’s attention and highlight the importance of having a #BigConversation.
Keech Hospice and Dorothy House Hospice Care both interviewed children about death, for example what they thought happens to people after they die. Keech’s film was picked up by national media such as the Daily Mirror and Mail, as well as getting lots of local coverage.
Each day of the week saw Havens Hospices post a new photo to its Facebook page. Entitled ‘Conversations in Pictures’, the series of photos shared personal stories from those connected to the hospice, each depicting a certain conversation that occurred during a person’s illness or post bereavement.
Richard House Children’s Hospice used social media to ask its supporters, families, staff and volunteers how they would like to be remembered, asking them to share images, ideas and plans and displaying them all on a wall created in the hospice dining area.
A number of hospices – such as St Elizabeth Hospice – also used social media to invited people to tweet their questions about hospice care and end of life care planning, which were answered by hospice staff.
Many hospices also published blogs and Q&As with staff and volunteers. St Margaret’s Hospice Care asked directors, employees and volunteers what they would include in their ‘emotional will’, which includes details of thoughts and messages people would like to leave their loved ones, rather than objects.
Earl Mountbatten Hospice published a series of short films made by hospice staff, covering subjects such as the importance of planning for a funeral, making a will and coping with loss.