Penny Beerling, our My Life, My Decision Project Coordinator in Oxfordshire, tells us more about her experiences supporting people to plan ahead.

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you will have followed how the project is growing and developing. All the seven counties covered by the active local partnerships with AgeUK have become enthused with the passion, knowledge and vitality of the project’s team members. All are reflecting the huge demand for this project that informs people of their right to live out their lives according to their wishes and values.

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As the project is getting underway, we workers encounter a huge range of reactions to our delivery. Speaking for myself, working in Oxfordshire, when I provide information to people interested in knowing how Advance Decisions and Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare can be of benefit to them, I have found that most people are keen to take part in the project.They want to know more, they take my leaflets, and maybe we arrange a personal visit.

 

Now and again, I get asked: “How do I talk to my loved ones about this?”

It’s a hard question to answer, but it’s a hugely important subject.  There is a multitude of reasons for that, of course, but for many it is fear of upsetting other people.  Lots of people don’t like talking about life, illness and what matters in the end.

Supporting people to plan ahead is a vital part of the practical work we do in My Life My Decision, evidenced by the facts and figures we collect.  However, helping people to feel confident in talking about their thoughts, fears and ideas is just as crucial. Filling in the forms is only one part of the service, supporting people to talk through their desires is an inherent aspect to achieve success.  My job, and the job of my MLMD colleagues, is to really listen to the people we work with, to hear the reasons why they want to refuse treatments and how their family might react, to enable them to talk about the feelings and fears they have of their future, and support them to make sure their wishes are respected.

Having a conversation about your future care and treatment with your loved ones can be difficult. It may be useful to prepare what you want to say in advance and involve others to support your cause. Of course, it can be a sensitive subject but it is important that this does not get in the way of you making your wishes known to your loved ones. If your loved ones do not want to have the conversation with you the first time around, do not give up.  Embracing difficult conversations is a part of achieving really successful plans for a good life.