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Training workshop strengthens end of life care in West Essex

A good death doesn't just happen and it's essential to talk about what is important to people - that was the message at a conference in Harlow which brought together individuals from a range of organisations, from across west Essex, who care for people at the end of life.
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Health, social care and voluntary organisations worked in partnership to hold the one-day training conference as part of Dying Matters Week (13-19 May), looking at how professionals and volunteers can help prepare people for death and dying.


Titled Are we ready - What can you do?, the Why Dying Matters workshop took place on Thursday 16th May and was organised by Saint Francis Hospice, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, NHS West Essex CCG, St Clare Hospice, Isabel Hospice, Macmillan Cancer Support and Essex Partnerships University NHS Foundation Trust.


Guest speaker Sherree Fagge, Head of Nursing and End of Life Care at NHS Improvement, delivered the keynote opening speech to a full-capacity audience. Ms Fagge stressed the particular value of the conference, since it ranged across all services involved in caring for people at end of life, and exemplified the work across organisations to provide integrated support.


More than 100 attended workshop, including nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, paramedics, social workers, psychiatrists, community nurse specialists, volunteers and healthcare assistants.


The workshop gave participants the opportunity to develop their knowledge about end of life care, whilst adding skills and confidence for supporting people with end of life care needs, and their families and carers.


Ms Fagge said: "I had the great pleasure of being invited to the Dying Matters workshop at Harlow today. This day was really well organised and the most important thing was that it was a system-wide group of people; all committed to improving care for end of life care patients.


"I had the opportunity to present the national picture around the priorities at that level and to connect that to the work that the people in the room are involved in. I was also able to share the quality improvement work happening across England to make a difference.


"The team organised some excellent presentations and it was great to hear from the Butterfly volunteers spending time with patients who are dying. We have already asked them to speak nationally to share this great work so that others can take the model forward. The day really did embrace the themes of Are we ready? It was a privilege to be invited today."


Bridget Moss - LGBTQOther presenters included Dr Qamar Abbas, from St Clare Hospice, who spoke about Advance Care Planning; Liz Prior, from Anne Robson Trust Butterfly volunteers, who described how volunteers help support dying people, and the Revd Gill Newman, from the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, who spoke about the importance of recognising spiritual and cultural needs. Additionally, Bridget Moss, Head of Education at our Hospice (pictured right), talked about connecting with people who are LGBTQ, whilst Phil Clegg, from Daniel Robinson Funeral Directors, explored this year's Dying Matters theme Are We Ready?


During the afternoon, workshop participants observed a role-play, demonstrating how the complexity of family dynamics and different beliefs can affect a dying person's care. Workshop participants were then treated to a mindfulness session, with Simon McVey from Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.


A number of organisations also held information stalls to provide attendees with further information and learning resources.