Ask people what they want: The key to end of life care

A chaplain to a care home says it's vital we talk openly about dying.
Woman sitting next to her husband, who is sleeping in a hospital bed
We need to talk about dying and not shy away from it like we used to. People need to be strong enough for their voice to be heard.

Father John Hyde, who lives in Poole, provides pastoral care at a care home in Southbourne and has had a lot of experience supporting people through the last stages of their lives.

For Dying Matters week (13-19 May), which aims to encourage people to speak more openly about dying and end of life care, we spoke to him to find out what he’s learnt.

“I have witnessed lots of good care over the years and at other times not so good. In the home where I visit, we listen to people and find out what sort of things they have on their bucket list,” he said.

“These can be small things but mean a lot to a person. For instance, we took an old lady out to an ice cream parlour she always wanted to visit, and an old chap went car racing.

“We talk to patients and their relatives about end of life care when the time comes. The big thing is giving people time, as some healthcare staff are too busy rushing around or embarrassed to talk to them about what they want in their care.

“Sometimes all they want is for someone to hold their hand in their final moments.”

Supporting LGBTQ people

John also supports older LGBTQ people through a friendship group he set up called Silver Moments and has seen end of life care vary for those in the LGBTQ community.

“For the older people who have hidden their sexuality away for so long in their lives, it can be hard when faced with end of life care. They may have a partner they have never told their family, friends or neighbours about and they miss out on support,” he said.

“Sometimes there can be a stigma and healthcare staff or undertakers might not be as supportive or understanding. I would encourage people to give feedback on these services to Healthwatch."

Advice and information

Do you or a family member need advice and information about end of life care? Contact your local Healthwatch.

Talk to your local Healthwatch

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You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas. Talk to your local Healthwatch.

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