In January 2013, Compassion in Dying and Age UK East London launched the End of Life Rights Advocacy (ELRA) service in the London boroughs of Newham, Hackney & Tower Hamlets. This project has provided one-to-one support for over 100 older people to help them understand their end of life rights, and over 600 health and care workers attended talks and training on how to have difficult conversations about end of life rights with their clients.
Thanks to new funding from the Big Lottery Fund, Compassion in Dying will be working with local Age UK’s to roll out ‘My Life, My Decision’ across East London, Hillingdon, Oxfordshire, Trafford, Lancashire, South Tyneside and South Lakeland. Other strategic partners for the project include Stonewall, the International Longevity Centre and Jewish Care.
The scheme will provide training for Age UK volunteers to support vulnerable older people to make informed decisions about their medical treatment at the end of life, and to communicate their wishes with family, carers and healthcare professionals. The scheme will also provide assistance with Advance Decisions forms, and Health and Personal Welfare Lasting Power of Attorneys.
The project will also work to raise awareness of end of life rights among GP’s and other healthcare professionals, care homes, and community groups.
Danielle Hamm, Director of Compassion in Dying, said: “We are delighted to have received funding from the Big Lottery Fund to expand our end of life advocacy service and training across England. Everyone will experience death, which can be overwhelmingly distressing, particularly without preparation. Planning for the end of life can reduce distress and yet, for many, talking about death remains a ‘taboo’ subject. Fear of the unknown, losing control and dignity, lack of knowledge about legal rights and cultural factors make planning for end of life challenging.
“Our outreach work in East London has proved that, given the right support and tools, individuals and professionals alike, become confident talking about quality of dying and planning ahead for the end of life. Now, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, we are going to be able to expand this outreach service and make a real difference to the lives of over 24,000 older people across England.”