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From New Beginnings to Peaceful Endings, People Urged to Talk About Palliative Care

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As the New Year gets under way and many people look forward to new beginnings, a palliative care specialist is urging people to also think of the end.

Dr Brian Nyatanga said talking about death and dying should be less of a taboo and would help people to live fuller lives.

He is urging people to break down barriers and talk openly with friends and families about their wishes for end of life care and funeral arrangements.

“Losing someone is always going to be a very painful experience, there is no getting away from that,” he said. “But if you have talked about what that person’s wishes were and made proper arrangements, it can take a lot of the stress away from those left behind and allow them to grieve in a more peaceful way.”

“Talking about death and dying is a real taboo in this country and of course it is a very sensitive subject,” he added. “But we need to break through that. There is only one thing that is certain in life, and that is that we all must die one day. So why not talk to the people you love and make sure that when that day comes, there are no added stresses and pressures?”

Every year, around half a million people die in England, and two thirds of them are people over 75. Most of these deaths come after a period of long term illness such as heart disease, cancer or dementia.

Although everybody has their own idea of what a ‘good death’ is, for most people it would involve being without pain, in a familiar place with close family or friends and being treated with respect.

In November 2013 the University of Worcester, working in partnership with St Richard’s Hospice Foundation, launched the Centre for Palliative Care (CPC) to support the provision of excellent palliative care to all at the end of life.

Dr Nyatanga, who is the academic lead for the Centre, said: “We need to normalise the conversation around death and dying so that we can provide better, person-centred care. I understand that it can be very difficult for people but the more we can get people talking about it, the less scary it becomes.”