Message in a bottle for end of life care

The NHS trust responsible for care in Comet country has launched a campaign to help terminally ill people die at home with their loved ones rather than in hospital.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust’s Message In A Bottle initiative is aimed at helping those with life-limiting conditions and their families to complete the proper documentation to refuse medical treatment, including resuscitation if they wish.

This would be kept in a special plastic container in the fridge, similar to those already used to tell health carers about a patient’s medical condition.

Carolyn Fowler, a Macmillan lecturer practitioner on end of life care at the trust said their job was to help patients and families understand the issues and the steps they can take to ensure final wishes are respected.

“Talking about and preparing for death is something that many people find really difficult. Yet for those with a life-limiting illness, it can be incredibly important,” she said.

“Our campaign should help support patients who choose to be cared for and die at home, to spend precious time with loved ones at the end of their lives, rather than end up in hospital.

“Additionally, it should help bring to an end the trauma of people being resuscitated against their wishes, only to die in a busy A&E department or acute hospital ward.”

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Chairman of Stevenage Age Concern, David West, welcomed the move.

“It’s certainly a good idea. It’s a help to people. It gives them confidence,” he said.

The trust said statistics show that 70 per cent of people surveyed would rather be cared for and die in their own home than in hospital.

Currently 35.8 per cent of people in Hertfordshire die at home or in a care home. The trust wants to increase that figure to 50 per cent by 2015.

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