On Monday we took part in a Skills for Care event around developing learning tools for individuals who are involved in or interested in knowing more about end of life care. It was a great mixture of people from different roles and settings from across the East London Boroughs; individuals who receive care and support, carers, care home managers and people from the local Clinical Commissioning Group. It was a chance to develop our own understanding and talk about how we can work together to support people at the end of their lives. The days will be taking place across London but we attended a local East London one at St Josephs Hospice. [To find out more St Joseph’s Hospice visit http://www.stjh.org.uk/]

During the event, some of the carers shared some of the difficulties they had in terms of supporting individuals, which were extremely moving. There were several threads that ran through the event, such as communication, empathy, flexibility and choice. Some individuals talked about how they and the individuals they supported felt disempowered and not listened to, that they and their loved ones were not consulted about aspects of their care.

The diversity of East London was also discussed, and the challenges that we face in that, especially around the lack of available translators. We talked about some of the training we have done with Subco, and how important it is to empower and nurture champions in individual communities. It reminded me that we need to continue to develop this partnership and continue to find individuals in other communities who are willing to support people who may not have English as a first language to access our project

We also had some interesting conversations about when to bring up the subject of what sort of treatment an individual would or would not want during their last years of life and if they had an Advance Decision. The possibility of this being approached as a matter of course when an individual registers with a new GP was mentioned with a scale of ‘where they are at’ that could be reviewed as needed. This sort of early intervention could certainly make a difference in ensuring that individual’s wishes are listened to and respected. In the absence of this we will continue to develop our work in East London to continue to empower communities to be aware of their rights and choices.

It was great to be amongst a group of people so keen to improve the last years of life care and we look forward to continuing to being involved with and contributing to the development of this important initiative.