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Advance Care Planning in Lambeth

Bringing important conversations into the community
Advance care planning
The Before I Die wall at Lambeth Country Show

This week, a pioneering new one-to-one support service will be launched in Lambeth to enable residents to consider and write down their treatment and care wishes, in case a time comes when they are unable to make or communicate decisions. Due to coronavirus, the service will be offered through telephone support, until we are able to provide a face-to-face service.

It is a truly grassroots project that has been designed alongside and for Lambeth’s diverse communities and will be delivered by local community organisations and volunteers, to ensure it remains in tune with and responsive to local needs.

The project is an initiative from the Lambeth Advance Care Planning Consortium, and is delivered by a project group led by Compassion in Dying and Healthwatch Lambeth. The Consortium brings together local community groups, Lambeth Council, the Lambeth borough-based board of South East London CCG and local Primary Care Networks to raise awareness of advance care planning, and support local people to be able to consider and document their wishes.

Research shows that when people have the opportunity to consider what matters most to them at the end of life — such as if they would rather prioritise quality of life or prolonging their life — and to document this, people are more likely to have a good end-of-life experience.

This is why the Lambeth Advance Care Planning Consortium is launching this new grass roots, peer-led project which brings these important conversations into the community, so that local people can consider and share what matters to them, without waiting for health and care professionals to lead the discussion. This is the first project of its kind in the UK, and could become a model to be replicated in communities across the country.

We have already spoken to hundreds of local people over the past year through a range of events including the Lambeth Country Show. More than 400 people visited our ‘Before I Die’ tent, which aimed to get people thinking about their wishes for the end of life or a time when they might not be able to say what they would or wouldn’t want. The tent included a wall for sharing bucket list dreams, information on how to record your wishes, and opportunities to talk about death and dying.

“I stopped when I saw the tent and immediately felt moved. You’re talking about death and suffering completely out of context. You’re very brave to bring this out. We need to talk about this. My sister has MS and is isolated because others don’t want to hear her talk about her situation. Death is scary and talking about it will make it less frightening.”

Before I Die tent visitor

During the three year project, the Consortium will:

Focusing on reducing local health inequalities

Through the design process for this project, we identified local communities who experience poor health outcomes and are less likely to report positive experiences of accessing services. This will enable the service to deliver bespoke support so that people from these communities are better supported to consider and document their treatment and care priorities.

We are working with the following groups in particular:

The Consortium includes local organisations such as Carers Hub LambethLambeth Learning Disability Assembly, and Stockwell Partnership, who all have well-established, trusted relationships with these communities and are key members of the project delivery team.

We are committed to sharing our learning throughout this project, so that other areas around the country can utilise our learning and the bespoke resources we develop. We will be using this blog to do so and would welcome your thoughts and collaboration.

Although we have been developing this project well before coronavirus took hold in the UK, it is now sadly more relevant and necessary than ever before, as significant numbers of people are becoming seriously unwell.

We hope this project will provide some immediate peace of mind and clarity to Lambeth’s residents in these challenging times, as well as helping to ensure they get the care and treatment that’s right for them in the long term.

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