Compassionate Communities – support with death, dying, loss and care
For all of us, there will be times when the practical realities of ill health and death intrude on our lives and expectations. It might be when your mother starts to show the signs of dementia. It might be when the doctor diagnoses you with cancer. It might be when someone you care about dies.
When faced with the reality of deteriorating health, caring responsibilities, death or bereavement, people need many things from the NHS and other formal services. But we also need many things from our friends, families and communities…
Though health and social care services play an important role at times of increased health need, they are only part of the picture. Other influences on our lives, such as our expectations, our ability to access information, and our social networks play a huge role in how we experience ill health, dying and bereavement.
People working in palliative care are increasingly recognising that if we truly want to improve people’s experiences towards the end of life, we need to foster open and supportive attitudes and behaviours relating to death, dying and bereavement in wider society.
With this in mind, the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care established Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief (GLGDGG) in 2011. GLGDGG is an alliance of individuals and organisations working to make Scotland a place where people feel better equipped to live with and support each other through the difficult times that can come with death, dying and bereavement.
Through GLGDGG we have brought together other like-minded organisations and individuals to take action in this area, for example through the annual To Absent Friends Festival of storytelling and remembrance. We also provide information and resources so that people can learn more about what to expect and how to plan for the end of life.
More recently, we’ve begun to look more closely at how we can be of practical help in supporting communities to become more compassionate in their responses to death, dying, loss and care. We’re excited to be embarking on a new project, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, where we’ll be providing community development support and advice directly to communities.
At the same time, we’re exploring what resources could help workplaces to support employees who are dealing with bereavement. We’re also developing a course for members of the public, designed to enable people to be more comfortable and confident supporting family/community members with issues they face during dying, death and bereavement. Both initiatives will be included in a new Toolkit, designed to provide ideas and inspiration for communities wishing to take local action to make their community more compassionate.
And alongside all this practical work, we have an ongoing mission to raise the profile of these issues as being of increasing relevance for an ageing population within a climate of austerity during an ‘epidemic of loneliness’.
Scottish Partnership on Palliative Care
FiOP, the Church of Scotland Guild and Scottish Partnership on Palliative Care are organising a conference on these issues for churches on 11th June 2019 in Edinburgh