It is exciting times here at Compassion in Dying.  The Silver Dreams-funded End-of-Life Rights Advocacy project has been gaining momentum and we are pleased to announce that both members of project staff are now in post.  But it’s an emotional time for me in particular as I am leaving Compassion in Dying after three years at the organisation and almost a full year working on the Silver Dreams application and project.

I have worked for Compassion in Dying since it was set up in 2009.  The organisation was set up to inform and empower people of their legal rights and choices at the end of life, and provide support to ensure that individual’s treatment wishes can be respected if they lose the ability to communicate with healthcare professionals.   It is the only organisation in the UK that provides information and support in this area.  Our services include a free Information Line (0800 999 2434) and Advance Decision document – more information about our services can be found on our website www.compassionindying.org.uk.

We conducted a poll with YouGov in 2011, which found that, whilst the vast majority of people (82%) have strong wishes about how they wish to be treated at the end of life, most people (only 3%) communicate their wishes in advance.  We also found that there are a significant proportion of people who cannot access our Information Line, or required more in-depth support, perhaps because of disability, a language barrier or a lack of confidence with the subject matter.

It was this that gave us the idea for an End-of-Life Rights Advocacy project in East London, a service working with people in their own homes.  This is the only project of its kind in the UK. We are indebted the Big Lottery Fund for funding the pilot, and to Age UK East London for working with us to provide the infrastructure and local knowledge that will be vital for making this project a success.

It is sad not to be a part of this exciting project beyond this point, but I am very much looking forward to following this blog to find out about the how the project is developing and the successes that I have every confidence there will be.  So a big thanks to the Big Lottery Fund for giving us this opportunity and good luck to everyone at Compassion in Dying and Age UK East London – not that I think you’ll need it!

Jo Thomas, Charity Development Officer