Bedfordians must talk more about what they want to happen when they die

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Not being willing to discuss death leads to people spending their final moments away from where they wanted to, a meeting has heard.

A report presented to the Health & Wellbeing Board last week (8 June) said during 2021-22, 322 of the palliative care patients who died in Bedford Borough had an Advance Care Plan (ACP) and 267 didn’t.

The overall aim of an ACP is to enable people to live as long and as comfortably as they can. They also help people to die in comfort, with dignity, and in the surroundings of their choice.

Diane Meddick, senior commissioner for palliative and end-of-life care at BLMK CCG, said as a consequence of not having an ACP meant those 267 patients had an unknown preferred place of death.

“A plan should be as a result of a conversation with the individual, when they’re identified as palliative, of their needs, their wishes and includes their funeral arrangements,” Ms Meddick said.

Currently, there are a range of services commissioned to deliver palliative and end-of-life care for adults and children across BLMK. But these services are not formally integrated.

Ms Meddick said: “One of the major pieces of work we’ve prioritised is investing in information management technology to support the shared care record.

“So if you’re a paramedic turning up to a person’s house and they don’t want to go into hospital, that is something that should be flashed up,” she said.

Committee chair, Cllr Louise Jackson (Labour, Harpur Ward) said: “I think getting that shared care record in place has got to be key.

“Having to keep telling the same story over and over again at an already exhausting time is not something that people want to have to do.

“As a society, we need to get better about talking about dying and what our preferences are.

“If you’ve only got a few days to pull everything together then things probably aren’t going to go as well as you would want them to.

“We should focus as much on making the end of people’s lives as good as we do for the people coming into the world,” she said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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