NHS West Essex takes the lead in encouraging the public talking about our choices for end of life ca

PUBLISHED: 13:03 20 March 2010 | UPDATED: 07:35 30 May 2010

A NATIONAL poster and leaflet campaign aimed at getting more of us to think and talk about how and where we wish to be cared for in our final days will be piloted in several areas, including west Essex. Surveys have repeatedly shown that few of us discus

A NATIONAL poster and leaflet campaign aimed at getting more of us to think and talk about how and where we wish to be cared for in our final days will be piloted in several areas, including west Essex.

Surveys have repeatedly shown that few of us discuss crucial issues about end of life care preferences with our relatives or carers.

Posters and leaflets aimed at encouraging people to take part in advance care planning discussions (ACP) outlining their wishes and preferences about their future care are to being placed in Plane Ward, St Margaret's Hospital, Epping; Harvey Ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow; Galen House Oncology Clinic, Harlow; and St Clare Hospice, Hastingwood.

ACP involves an individual discussing with relatives, friends or care professionals issues and thoughts about their care and the choices they would like to make.

It can help carers and staff plan future care and shape decisions when a person is no longer able to make his or her feelings understood.

A Preferred Priorities for Care (PPC) document is an example of a planning aide and it can be used to record issues such as whether a person has a strong preference to die in a particular setting - for example in his or her own home.

The pilot exercise will run for three months and staff from the sites will report back on how many leaflets are taken and whether more people ask to talk about ACP and PPC.

Specific requests to refuse treatment are not covered by PPC - they require separate more formal declarations known as Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment.

Copies of a PPC can be downloaded from ppcdocument.com

Requests through this route will also help assess the effectiveness of the pilot campaign with the aim of extending it nationally.

West Essex is one of just three areas piloting the exercise which is being funded by the National End of Life Care Programme.

Les Storey, PPC lead at the programme, said: "More people are thinking and talking about where they would like to die and about the type of care they would like to receive.

"However for many of us it remains too sensitive or painful an issue to raise on our own behalf or when a loved one is dying.

"These documents are not legally binding but they can help provide reassurance to the individual and their family as well as help care professionals understand the person they are caring for."

Eleanor Sherwen, Acting Assistant Director for End of Life Care and Long Term Conditions with NHS West Essex, said: "The Preferred Priorities for Care document can and does make a real difference for patients and their families. It helps to facilitate conversations around concerns, wishes and potential fears. It helps create an openness within families.

"By the individual identifying where they would like to be cared for at the end of life this document can also assist health and social care professional focus and plan on what it is the individual wants, and therefore help avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital.

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