Public urged to have ‘big conversation’ about death at awareness event

Pictured are the organisers of the Norwich Death Cafe, left, Su Squire and Kayla Bainger. Picture: A

Pictured are the organisers of the Norwich Death Cafe, left, Su Squire and Kayla Bainger. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A certain playwright who died 400 years ago once said: 'All that live must die, passing through nature to eternity.'But, according to health researchers from the region, too few of us are having serious discussions with our friends and family in order to plan properly for the end of life.

More than 1,600 people from Norfolk have been surveyed about their attitudes and thoughts around death, and the main findings showed the majority have problems addressing their mortality and a lack of understanding of the benefits of advance care planning.

The findings were presented by Healthwatch Norfolk at an event at The Forum, Norwich, yesterday, in conjunction with Dying Matters Awareness Week.

Researchers said people tend to focus on practical issues such as making a will and a lasting power of attorney for property and finance, but less so on planning how to best prepare for dying itself.

In Norfolk and Waveney 9,000 people die every year.

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Sue Spooner, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Palliative Care Academy who led the research on behalf of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: '

'This is a very difficult subject for people, but once the issue is opened up I am always amazed at how people embrace the opportunity to talk.

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'The research highlighted the difficulties that health and social care staff have in beginning such a conversation.

'There is much to be done to ensure we get the end of life we wish – there is only one chance to get it right.'

The event yesterday gave people the chance to speak to GPs, solicitors, and even funeral directors to get information about how to plan for death.

Healthwatch Norfolk chairman William Armstrong said: 'We need to make talking about death as natural as talking about the weather.'

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