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Faith, Food and Family

Exploring Advance Care Planning with Portuguese-speaking communities
Advance care planning
Lambeth Portuguese Wellbeing partnership

We specialise in helping people to make plans for their end-of-life treatment and care. Evidence shows that when people are supported to record their wishes for treatment and care, it can have a hugely positive impact on their end-of-life experience, and, importantly, on their quality of life before they die.

There are a variety of factors that can make planning for future treatment and care more or less straight-forward to achieve. For example, having conversations and recording an advance care plan can be easier if:

Sadly, we know from our work that many people don’t have these kinds of support systems or such open relationships with their healthcare providers.

It can be harder for some communities

Some communities experience a combination of disadvantages that negatively affect their access to healthcare and ultimately impact their health outcomes.

These can include:

When it comes to planning for end of life care and dying there are a range of specific challenges thrown into this mix.

We’ve been working with members of the Portuguese-speaking community in the South London borough of Lambeth, who have explained how they and their families experience these barriers on a personal level.

It’s difficult to access interpreters when we need them at the GPs. My daughter normally comes with me, but what about people who don’t have family? People use different methods, some people use friends, others have to pay someone. I don’t have enough time to explain my problems. It takes time.

Workshop Participant

In Lambeth, 1 in 6 residents speak Portuguese as a first language — that’s more than 35,000 people.

We know that people in this community experience language barriers, alongside high rates of poverty and other disadvantages, ultimately resulting in poorer health outcomes.

Health inequality is not random or a matter of bad luck — it is a matter of social injustice

We undertook a Lottery-funded project that supported Lambeth’s Portuguese-speaking communities with advance care planning. We designed this work as part of our commitment to ensuring that diverse ethnic, faith and community groups are empowered to make plans for their end-of-life care — and to generate better understanding of the obstacles preventing this planning from happening and the ways in which they can be overcome.

People told us about the difficulties they face when considering the treatment and care they would want towards the end of their lives:

At home they have what’s called a family doctor. We do have more time in Portugal… if you have a headache they want to find out where it comes from.

Workshop Participant

Some of the questions made me feel scared. I think you were very brave to talk about this!

Workshop Participant

Here at Compassion in Dying, we do more than simply identify obstacles to good care. We are committed to generating learning in partnership with community organisations and the people they serve.

During our project in Lambeth, we worked together to overcome some of these obstacles:

Our work with Portuguese-speaking communities is informing the work of Lambeth’s Advance Care Planning Consortium. This is an open network of organisations working to make advance care planning accessible for Lambeth’s diverse communities and increase the numbers of people documenting their wishes, ensuring that what matters to each person is known about when health decisions need to be made.

The Advance Care Planning Consortium is using community events to raise awareness of the importance of planning ahead, and will provide one-to-one support for people to document and share their wishes.

Read the full report to find out more about the project.

Let us know what you think, or if you have a story to share get in touch — via email or on Twitter.

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