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Compassionate Communities - strengthening end of life support

The Compassionate Communities project is strengthening the level of support available to people at the end of their life, and their families, as well as inspiring more conversations about death, dying and bereavement.

The project is seeing a number of volunteers trained as Compassionate Companions who will offer a listening ear, practical support and non-medical advice to anyone with a life-shortening illness in east Suffolk.

During this week’s Dying Matters Awareness Week, a new local Compassionate Communities website has been launched at https://www.compassionate-communities.co.uk/  and contains locally relevant information to support a good death, including advice on how to make it easier to have difficult conversations about death and dying, so that people are better informed and able to make the right choices and decisions. 

The website includes suggestions on how to start a conversation and what topics to cover, with plenty of resources to help someone set out their wishes. It also explains what a Compassionate Companion can do to support someone approaching end of life and how to get in touch.

The project also focuses on using creative arts and music to raise awareness and help people talk, and also to support them deal with end of life and bereavement. 

There are lots of activities planned for the future. 

For now people are being encouraged to participate in a five-day challenge to consider how they can best live a good life as well as best prepare for their own death or the death of a loved one. Activities as part of the challenge include choosing your funeral playlist, and finding creative ways to express grief, capturing family memories and creating a ‘bucket list’ of things one would like to accomplish before death – more information on the challenge here

The Compassionate Communities project originated at the Peninsula Practice (Alderton and Aldeburgh). It is funded by NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and East Suffolk Council. 

Dr Lindsey Crockett, partner at the Peninsula Practice and the CCG’s end of life care lead said: “It is appropriate that we officially launch the website during this week’s Dying Matters Awareness Week, and especially during this time of coronavirus, with many people affected by illness, death and grief. 

“The Compassionate Companions are a particularly valuable resource and are still able to provide ‘comfort calls’ to patients and family by telephone, and in future will be able to resume the service face-to-face.

“The intention of Compassionate Communities is to empower our local community so that, through kindness and compassion, we can give people at the end of their life, and their families the support they need. 

“Death is a part of life and something that no-one can prevent. Yet, conversations about death can be difficult. For the dying person it can leave them frustrated that they are leaving things undone and for the family members left behind it can create stress and accentuate the feelings of grief.

“But by talking early, openly and honestly, hopefully a good death can be achieved.”

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