Spotlight on Dying Matters Award: Dying Matters Staffordshire, University Hospitals of North Midlands

Categories: People & Places.

We continue our focus on entries for the Dying Matters award that made the long list with Dying Matters Staffordshire, a programme of events led by University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM)

The Specialist Palliative Care team (SPCT) at the university have worked on projects in both community and hospital settings for many years to raise awareness of Dying Matters. Last year they hosted a conference on palliative care that was attended by over 200 delegates. Building on this success, the SPCT met with key stakeholders to discuss further opportunities to work together to reach a much wider audience, and it was agreed that all organisations would share their plans and collaborate to promote further work across Staffordshire.

During Dying Matters Week,  23 events took place across the county with the support of 39 organisations and individuals, including the Clinical Commissioning Groups who provided marketing and communications support, and help arranging the events from Lesley Goodburn, Chair of PiP and founder of the Purple Rainbow Campaign in support of Pancreatic Cancer UK, End of Life Care Facilitator Joseph Potts, and advanced care practitioner Nicki Morgan at UHNM.

The week kicked off with a palliative care conference for health care professionals, organised by the UHNM Palliative Care Team and Douglas Macmillan Hospice. Claire Henry MBE, Hospice UK’s Director of Improvement and Transformation opened the event, which featured the play Homeward Bound, talks from Chris Pointin from the #hellomynameis campaign, and a number of workshops focusing on communication skills, pain and nutrition. Over 150 health care professionals attended from around the country.

The next day a virtual autopsy hosted by Dr Suzy Lishman was performed. This allowed professionals and members of the public to gain a better insight into autopsies, with many reporting it had changed their perceptions. A tour of the anatomy lab at Keele Medical School followed a week later, attended by 16 health professionals. The school also held a public talk on whole body donation.

Engagement with the public was high on the priority list for this year’s awareness week. Pop-up shops in multiple locations were held across the county. A coffin was donated by Hopkinson Lovatt and Wootton Funeral Directors, and members of the public were encouraged to write or draw directly onto it, which resulted in the creation of a coffin “funeral playlist’ and discussion boards.

Adults with learning disabilities and their carers were invited to attend a Dying Matters Coffee Morning and feedback from this was very positive. One of the most popular events was the dead or alive quiz hosted by local radio presenter Paul Fairclough, a fun-filled night with lots of thought-provoking questions, and fish and chips.

Additionally local broadcast journalist Charlotte Foster was commissioned to record a series of podcasts, one for each day of the week.

All the events in the north of the county were supported by volunteers, while St Giles Hospice led the work in the south supported by their partner organisations and volunteers who generously donated their time, as there was no formal funding for any of these events.

The week was a great success with over 1500 people taking part in the activities, with the UHNM saying “it was inspirational to work with such a diverse group of organisations, to come together and support such an important topic.”

The winners of the Hospice UK awards will be announced on November 27 at the annual conference.

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