Health care experts discuss future of end of life care in Norfolk
- Credit: Nick Butcher
End of life and palliative care can be boosted by involving family, friends and neighbours.
That was the message to Norfolk health care professionals at a Dying Matters summit in the Forum, Norwich,
Today's event marked Dying Matters Week (May 8-14) and tackled the taboo subject through talks by health care experts who spoke about how to improve palliative care.
It was part of the Lord Lieutenant Richard Jewson's summit on palliative and end of life care.
Now in its fourth year, the summit featured a public information event with 20 stalls.
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Dr Libby Sallnow, who grew up in Norwich but now works at a London hospice, spoke about research into the benefits of so-called compassionate communities.
The concept involves linking people who have no connection to health care and training them up to support unwell people in the community.
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Dr Sallnow said: 'Social links are essential for survival. The compassionate communities idea is about partnerships but not about replacing professional support. You are giving the community skills. But it cannot take place in a clinical framework.'
Dr Louise Smith, public health director for Norfolk County Council, backed the idea because extra staff and money would be needed for additional palliative care, which was a challenge.
Dr Smith said on average between 10 and 50 people die in Norfolk every day.
'There is a lot more we can do in our communities,' she added.
Keynote speaker Baroness Ilora Finlay, chairman of the National Council for Palliative Care. said 70pc of people did not think palliative care had to be provided by health care professionals, according to a national survey.
Baroness Finlay said: 'People are frightened of death...they are most frightened of pain. Physical pain can be looked after and families are prepared to do that.'
She encouraged schools to be more involved in talking to youngsters who have a relative who is dying or has died.
Lorraine Munro, a Macmillan palliative care social worker who discharges Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital patients, said it was important for people to think about where they spent their last few days or weeks because of funding challenges or locating beds.