May has been a busy month for the National Council for Palliative Care and Dying Matters.
From 9th – 15th May was Dying Matters Awareness Week and many events took place throughout the UK to get people talking about death, dying and bereavement.
It was our biggest year ever, with record breaking traffic to the Dying Matters website, having nearly 50 radio interviews and being featured on BBC Breakfast and the Today Programme. The hashtag #BigConversation was used over 14,000 times.
Dying Matters Awareness Week started with the debate on 9th May, looking at how drama can help medical professionals understand patients facing end of life issues.
NCPC held their first Parliamentary drop-in on 11th May, which saw health minister Ben Gummer MP pledge to “Do all [he] can to reduce variation in the experience people and their families have at the end.”
The event also included the relaunch of SunLife’s free online funeral planning site, My Perfect Send-Off.
Each day, a themed Twitter chat took place. One of the topics covered was “the importance of making a will”, with experts on hand to answer questions posed by the public.
This proved to be a popular topic and coincided with new research, carried out by ComRes, that was released during the week. It showed that only 1% of 18 – 24 year olds have made a will and despite over half of people (52%) saying that over the past five years, they have become more comfortable discussing death, only 35% say they have a will.
Many younger people feel that death is a long way off for them, or that they have nothing to leave in a will, but modern society has changed this somewhat. People now need to consider their social media accounts, gaming accounts and online music collections.
The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care held their own awareness week events, under the name Death Awareness Week Scotland, including It Takes a Village; an exhibition of self-portraits from people who have cared for someone who is dying or who has died.
There will also be a series of death themed events at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Death on the Fringe will take place 5th – 29th August.
This week certainly highlighted the need for the theme of Dying Matters Awareness Week, the Big Conversation, to continue and for everyone to get more active with issues surrounding end of life.
Dying Matters Awareness Week 2017 will start on May 8th.
Guest Blog by Stephanie Owens, National Council for Palliative Care
On June 24, 2016