A chaplain to a care home in Southbourne believes it’s important to talk openly about dying and for people to share their experiences.

Father John Hyde, who lives in Poole, is encouraging others to give feedback about end of life care to Healthwatch Dorset as part of Dying Matters awareness week (13-19 May*).

Father John 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.

He said: “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.

“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 had 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.”

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

“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 Dorset.

“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.”

Louise Bate, Healthwatch Dorset Manager, said: “We appreciate this can be a hard subject to talk about, which is why any insight patients and relatives can give will help make services better for others in the future.

“Healthwatch Dorset is here to listen to the views of local people on health and social care services and present these views to the decision-making organisations in the county which have the power to make change happen.”

Share your views on local health and social care services: call the team at Healthwatch Dorset on 0300 111 0102; email enquiries@healthwatchdorset.co.uk or visit: www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk

*Dying Matters is a coalition of organisations which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.