The Departure Lounge: empowering people to talk about dying

Categories: Care and Community Engagement.

Dying Matter Awareness Week 2019 will ask the question ‘Are We Ready?’ Equipping people to have this conversation is the aim of The Academy of Medical Sciences’ most ambitious engagement project to date, ‘The Departure Lounge’, writes communications officer Jonathan Cooke.

Taking over a unit in a shopping centre in Lewisham, south London, ‘The Departure Lounge’ will offer members of the public an opportunity to engage both with leading researchers in palliative and end of life care as well as those with personal experience of terminal illness and end of life care.

We want to engage with the whole of the community and support them to have informed conversations about preferences at the end of their lives. In addition, we want to demonstrate to people that palliative care is part of healthcare and not simply the last resort when all else has failed.

The Academy wants to empower people not only to have freer and more open conversations about death and dying with themselves but also with their friends, family and wider communities. Through these conversations not only can people have a more positive stance on the process of dying but also they can see how their wishes, values and feelings can be incorporated into their end of life care.

We are eager to gain as much valuable experience from researchers, carers and people who have either studied palliative care and end of life care or have experience with either of these processes. Sharing your stories will not only allow us to gain a better understanding of the palliative care field, but also the human impact it can have. Should you know any stories yourself you wish to share, or know of any resources from which we could draw to better educate our conversation than please get in touch using the email listed below.

In addition, as part of our outreach event we are looking for enthusiastic researchers, science communicators and healthcare professionals to work within the space to help members of the public interact with The Departure Lounge and share their research.

So that our work has long-lasting impact past the end of our time in Lewisham Shopping Centre, we are developing a flat pack version of the lounge that can be used by people to take into their community and start their own conversations. The flat pack will be free and the Academy can offer up to £250 in support costs towards the running of such outreach events. This flat pack can be the basis of an event or can be used as part of a wider dialogue surrounding death and dying in communities where these conversations may be of benefit to others.

Further information on the contents of the flat pack and their intended use will be published on our website in the near future. Should your organisation be based in the UK and would like a copy of the flatpack, please complete a copy of the form found here. If you are based outside of the UK and would like a copy, or if you would like further information regarding The Departure Lounge, please contact Jonathan Cooke

The Academy would also like to hear from those who have conducted their own outreach events about palliative care to discuss the insights they gained from such events.

Dying Matters Awareness Week takes place May 13 – 19.

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