End-of-life care in Cornwall under professional spotlight

MORE THAN 100 professionals from Cornwall’s health and social care providers spoke candidly about improvements needed to end-of-life care in the county at an event last Friday.

Healthwatch Cornwall, a community interest company that represents people’s views of their health and social care, organised the A Good Death End-of-Life Conference in response to its research into the topic last year.

Chief Executive Debbie Pritchard said: “Our aim was to bring together professionals working within relevant care sectors to have open and frank conversations about what is working well and what could be improved.

“The day was a great success with so many positive examples and innovative ideas for positive change from which we aim to work with commissioners and providers to create an End-of-Life Charter for the county.

"This will provide clarity and scope for joined up working, which will ultimately enable people at the end of their lives to have a good death.”

The conference was opened by Sarah Newton MP who said she fully supported the aims of Healthwatch Cornwall and hoped the various professionals will now come together to help create the Charter.

She said: “This event has created a real opportunity for us to do something important for people in the county.”

Presentations on the day were given by representatives from Peninsula Community Health, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Cornwall Hospice Care, as well as discussions led by GP Matt Boulter who is also the Chair of Penwith Living Well, a care home manager, a soul midwife, and Dr Maria Earl of Saltash Health Centre who spoke about her experience of working on end-of-life service change in the Wirral.

Reuben Jenkins, director of Carers’ Break, gave a down-to-earth speech about the importance of remembering “we are all human” and he was joined by three members of his staff who spoke about their experiences of helping people at the time of death.

He said: “This has been the most effective event with all the right people in the room, including decision and policy makers with the will to make a difference.”

A public event included workshops covering the topics preparing for a funeral and how to ensure your legal and emotional wishes are honoured and an art exhibition, A Graceful Death, which showcased portraits of people during the final stages of their life or at the time of death by artist Antonia Rolls, and information stands representing organisations such as Children’s Hospice South West and Cruse Bereavement Care.

Healthwatch Cornwall plans to collate all the feedback from the event to inform the Charter in the next two months.

Visit healthwatchcornwall.co.uk to keep up-to-date, find out more or leave feedback, or alternatively call 0800 0381 281.