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Usha Grieve 21 February 2023

For your end of life. Your way.

This is the first in a series of blogs to share what we learnt through our journey of creating a clearer brand that speaks up for what people want and need at the end of life.
Our thoughts Working in the open
Pictured: Usha with Molly Bartlett in her garden

Today, at Compassion in Dying, we launch our new brand. When an organisation rebrands you can often expect a new name and a big launch campaign, but we’re not doing either of these things.

So, has anything changed?

Well, the short answer is yes. We have a new look and tone of voice to better reflect our values. Most importantly though, our brand is about what we do.

We want to help the UK get to a place where people’s end-of-life decisions are heard, understood and respected when it matters most.

Delivering direct support to people to ensure they are in control of their end-of-life decisions has always been, and will continue to be, the backbone of what we do. Alongside this, we will expand our work to amplify people’s voices, shift attitudes and drive changes to the healthcare system.  

Doing more to amplify the voices of the people we support

It’s a privilege to have supported over 70,000 people to make and communicate decisions about what’s right for them at the end of their life.

One of the things those people have told us clearly and consistently is that to have what they consider a ‘good’ death (more on what this means to people in tomorrow’s blog), they want to be supported to make informed decisions and have those decisions respected. This is true whether they are preparing for the years ahead or need us right now.

The insights people share have helped us to gain a rich picture of diverse experiences in relation to decision-making at the end of life. We know that excellent practice happens. But we also know that too often, people’s wishes are overlooked, not known about or simply ignored.

People tell us that they are best placed to make decisions about their own care, and the direction of travel of national policy rightly asserts the importance of this.

However, if we are to properly embrace this idea then we must take an honest look at what people need in order to do this properly and consistently.

Helping people to make decisions and plan ahead is only part of the puzzle

We realised that to enable people to be in control of their end-of-life decisions, delivering high-quality support to make and communicate those decisions isn’t enough. Because for many, the reality is that those documented wishes aren’t acted upon.

So, with our rebrand project we wanted to understand how people felt about an end-of-life brand that more vocally reflected the experiences of the people we support, in order to drive improvements.

We spent over a year researching what resonates with people when it comes to end-of-life decision-making and planning:

We spoke both with people we have supported already and those who might need us in the future. And unsurprisingly, they told us a lot.

People want honesty and to see their experiences reflected

Primarily, we found out that people welcome a more vocal and pioneering brand in relation to end of life. They told us that they valued honesty and not talking in euphemisms, which challenges a cultural silence around dying that they see as negative.

People are scared of ‘the system’ ignoring them

The main fear people told us about lay with the disconnected nature of our healthcare system and a lack of trust in it. Some people worried that to try to make decisions themselves and plan ahead would be seen as ‘anti-establishment’ and their doctors would not support it. Others feared that systems were not capable of sharing relevant information so it could be seen when needed, and some were worried about their rationale for making decisions being questioned.

People want to be in control of decisions about the end of their life

Our research also reaffirmed what people tell us through our services – that people want to make decisions for themselves, with the support of their family and healthcare team. One person who had made an Advance Decision said that a key motivation for doing so was: “to ensure the authority of my voice is heard”, and “MY voice and MY beliefs are visible, respected and loud throughout” – a sentiment echoed by many others.

Compassion in Dying in 2023 and beyond

We have used the insights people generously shared with us to create a brand with a clear purpose: We want people to be in control of their end-of-life decisions, because there is no one better to make them.

Our brand will flex between the two aspects of our work – the part that amplifies people’s voices, shifts attitudes and drives changes to the healthcare system so people’s end-of-life decisions are heard, understood and respected when it matters most, and the part that supports people directly to start honest conversations about death and dying, and record and revisit their wishes whenever they want to.

You’ll see us being more vocal about the experiences people share with us and using this, collaboratively, to help shape policy and practice. We’ll shine a light on what’s working and what’s not.  

We know that collaboration is powerful. So, we’re joining forces to share expertise and learn from others to achieve things we couldn’t alone.

Most importantly, everything we do will start with what dying people tell us. We’ll listen to what they say and champion everyone’s right to make informed decisions.

Other blogs in this series

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