Royal College of Nursing

Last week I attended the (fully booked) workshop ran by the Royal College of Nursing supported by the NHS and in association with Dying Matters.  The day addressed death from a range of different perspectives and discussion was evoked from experiences and current policies. It was a thought provoking and moving day for a multitude of different reasons.


The event was chaired by Simon Chapman (Director of Policy & Parliamentary Affairs, The National Council for Palliative Care) and further insights delivered by Burnell Bussue (RCN Director, London Region), Les Storey, (FRCN, Preferred Priorities for Care National Lead, National End of Life Care), Ruth Crossley (End of Life Care Facilitator, North East London Community Health Services) and Margaret Kendall (Consultant Nurse In Palliative Care / End of Life Care Lead, Warrington and Halton)

One of the key themes addressed was the area of 'communication'. The process and strategy surrounding communication and death is hugely important especially when defining how one wants to die and when information needs to be articulated back to relatives and patients. Experiences shared by the speakers and those attending the workshop were both positive and negative in equal measures. 

The example from the workshop that I found most heartwarming focused on an elderly lady called 'Peggy'. Peggy was determined to watch 'Will & Kate's' Royal Wedding in April 2011. As Peggy neared her end of life it was unknown whether or not she would live to see the royal occasion on TV. On the day of the event carers and those around her decorated the room in royal memorabilia and Union Jacks to make the occasion as enjoyable for Peggy as possible. Peggy survived to watch the wedding before passing away a few days later.


Margaret Kendall, Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care

(Margaret Kendall Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care)

After a short tea break Margaret Kendall led an 'interactive session' that brought up and addressed the theme of communication around death. "If we do not talk about end of life care it makes it hard to make end of life care a priority in our current healthcare system". Death (aka “the final taboo”) is an area that we all need to address whilst alive to make life easier on us and those around us once we or someone we care about passes away.

I would like to thank the Royal College of Nursing, the NHS and Dying Matters for the session and allowing me to participate in the workshop. It was both hugely informative and moving. My admiration for nurses and healthcare professionals who dedicate their lives to caring and treating those as they approach their end of life has always been huge. However I left the workshop with further admiration for such professionals and certain in the knowledge that I would not be mentally strong enough to work as an end of life specialist, nurse, or carer.

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