James launching his
James launching his 'Living Well and Dying Well' report

Whilst people in Bury know how they would spend their last days on earth, few are preparing for them, a survey from Sue Ryder has found.

Whilst 9 in 10 people knew what their last meal on earth would be, less than half this number (38%) have written a Will.

A third of people in Bury did not know that they can plan where they want to die and less than one in ten (8%) have made an advance care plan, a document which outlines a statement of preferences for end of life care.

Less than a quarter (24%) have discussed their death with their loved ones, confirming that the stigma around the D-word remains.

The national healthcare charity Sue Ryder is calling on people in Bury to start talking about death and local MP James Frith, who chairs the All-Party Group on Hospice and End of Life Care, is supporting their campaign.

Just under two thirds (65%) would want to spend their last day on earth in a familiar space, such as at home or place of worship and 17% would head straight to the seaside. However, the reality is that their final days would likely take place in a hospital, a hospice or at home.

James said:

“My mother-in-law died in a busy hospital with the comings and goings of visiting hours and new patients with minor complaints in comparison. This is nobody’s preferred place to die. Instead of an honest conversation about living well with terminal illness before dying well we followed a standard pattern that is all too frequently experienced by many families.

“Since I was elected as an MP I’ve campaigned to raise the profile of end of life care as an issue and the role of our hospices in the health and social care ecosystem. I produced a report for Mayor Andy Burnham called ‘Living Well and Dying Well’ about the future of our hospices and the importance of end of life care which has been adopted by NHS Greater Manchester. I’m pushing the issues at a national level too.

“Too many people don’t think about or have awareness of their options until it is too late. We need a better conversation about better death and I fully support Sue Ryder in starting this.”

Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder, said:

“We all need to start talking about the D-word. Many of us plan for weddings and births, holidays and careers, yet we still shy away from planning for our death.

“Death is inevitable for each and every one of us, but the period of time following a diagnosis of a terminal illness can be short, as well as incredibly emotional; don’t leave it until then to start planning.

“It may be easier to think about our ‘bucket list’ or the songs we want played at our funeral, but by taking the time to think about whether we would prefer to die in a hospice or at home, writing a Will, setting up a lasting power of attorney or making an advance care plan; it is possible to plan for a better death.

“We want to encourage everybody to talk about their plans with those close to them. Knowing what our wishes are and being able to support us in fulfilling them can bring great comfort to family and friends.”

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