Over the years FiOP has considered issues around end of life. We have held civic café events; seminars and had a brilliant lecture from Baroness Neuberger. Working with Good Life; Good Death; Good Grief we have tried to encourage people to have conversations about death and dying from a practical point of view but also a spiritual one. It is important to find ways of having such conversations in whatever way emerges to suit family and friends.
Elizabeth Mackinlay writes about our reluctance to discuss death and dying in her book Palliative Care, Ageing and Spirituality, because we don’t know how to speak about death; because we deny it and because dying has gradually moved from the intimacy of home to institutions like hospital. We need to understand our own reluctance.
However, there is a strong connection between palliative care and spirituality which is why FiOP is holding a joint conference with the Scottish Partnership on Palliative Care. Whilst our aim is to consider the impact of recent policy initiatives in both areas, we want to highlight the importance of having a focus on the spiritual needs of the individual at the end of life as being intrinsic to good palliative care.
The Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care stresses the principle that ‘each individual person’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs are recognised and addressed as far as it is possible’.
World Health Organisation (2010) highlights that palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for people who have a life-threatening illness and is defined as:
an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and others problems, physical psychosocial and spiritual.
In this context we are talking about meaning and purpose in life and relationship. For some this is around religion but for others it embraces different dimensions but which enable people to make sense of their lives which is particularly relevant to those who are facing death.
The importance of ‘presence’ is discussed by many authors but Steve Nolan eloquently illustrates this issue in relation to spiritual care through:
- recognising and owning one’s personal anxiety about death – mindfulness of being
- attending to the other person – listening attentively
- staying with the other – willing to go along the journey as far as being invited to share
- being open to change within oneself.
Our conference will consider how our policies and practice enable an improved quality of life and the books referred to help us to better understand these issues.
Book your place at our conference on 7 June 2016.
- Palliative Care; Ageing and Spirituality; A Guide for Older People and Families.
- Elizabeth Mackinlay; Jessica Kingsley (2012)
- Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care 2016-2021 Scottish Government (2015)
- Spiritual Care at the end of Life; Steve Nolan; Jessica Kingsley (2012)