Talking about dying

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Summary of report content

Between July and December 2019 Healthwatch Oldham carried out a review of palliative and end of life services.  The review was chosen in response to feedback from local partners about aspects of end of life care.  The report is informed by three pieces of research: a survey to ask the general public how comfortable they feel talking about dying and sharing their wishes with family and friends to which 131 people responded; in-depth interviews with 22 families who had supported a family member at the end of their life and a survey of professionals involved in the treatment or support of patients accessing palliative or end of life care. A total of 31 professionals completed the survey.

Families and carers shared many positive experiences about palliative and end of life care in Oldham, and 65% of respondents felt that the person they cared for had the best possible end of life. The research identifies the factors in positive experiences of end of life care.

The report considers the factors in good and poor experiences of end of life care. When it works well there is good communication and central coordination of services across different settings with professionals working together to ensure continuity of patient-centred end of life care. The report raises concerns about communication issues, particularly at diagnosis and when people are asked to repeat their stories either to different services that should be working together or to different staff from the same service.  People with multiple conditions often experienced different levels of care compared to those with a single terminal condition.

Both families and professionals wanted more flexibility of end of life services and easier access to advice and support 24 hours a day. Feedback from families highlights how the quality of care varies across different settings and depends on the individual professionals working with the family.

During the last three months of life 16 carers in the research provided considerable amounts of unpaid care and families struggle to access additional support due to delays with end of life funding. The effects on a carer can be considerable both in terms of their physical and emotional wellbeing. Only 41% of carers who took part in the review were offered bereavement support.

The report contains 13 recommendations on co-ordinated care, timely identification, planning of care, communication, the need for consistent care, access to hospice at home care, information and advice, easy access to end of life funding and care for the last weeks of life, access to training for professionals, support for carers and access to bereavement support. 


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General details

Report title 
Talking about dying
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Oldham
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 31 March, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 1 July, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 31 December, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Holistic support
Information providing
Quality of care
Quality of treatment
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 
Not known
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
End of life care
Social care services 
Hospice services at home
Community services 
Community healthcare and nursing services

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.