Dignity and Peace

Posted by Jenny Steele, on September 6 2019 in: Blog

What is a ‘good death’? Is there such a thing? How can me and my family prepare for this?


When the time comes, there are few things that patients and their families want more than a peaceful death. At Dorothy House, a ‘good death’ means leaving the world at peace, with dignity and supported by compassionate care.


In 2018 Dorothy House launched an ambitious strategic plan. It was the outcome of a review into local care needs and sets out how the Hospice will develop our palliative and end of life care services across Bath and North-East Somerset, Wiltshire and Somerset. The strategy focuses on five goals between 2019 to 2025 – ‘Death as a part of life’, ‘Living well’, ‘Peaceful death’, ‘Supported bereavement’ and ‘Increase in income.’


We will achieve these five goals by ensuring patients, their families and carers remain their first priority, by partnering with other third sector organisations to develop the services communities need, based in the locations they want. Engaging with the community earlier and leading the conversation about death and dying. Preparing and equipping society to embrace the reality that death is a part of life. Providing credible choice for patients on their preferred place of death.


The aim is to provide earlier support and quality of life to those with a life-limiting illness and the dying in the same way that society cares for a new-born and the young. Analysis shows that our population of over 65-year olds in this region will grow by 43% by 2025 and people will live longer with increasingly complex health and social care needs. So how do we support patients and our community better?


We will ensure that the wishes and preferences expressed in a patients Advance Care Plan (link) are prioritised to help people achieve a good death. One way we do this is by understanding where they wish to die, whether that is at home or in the Hospice. Our aim is to support 85% of our patients to die in their preferred place.


Salien, a Patient’s wife, said this about the care received from Dorothy House, “They cared for me and our children and grandchildren, looking after us as a family, not just John. MND is a cruel disease. Control is taken away from you but Dorothy House gave John control back. Towards the end he took the decision to have his mask removed. We were all with him, I was holding his hand. It was hard to see him go, but it was peaceful.”


We will also do this by continuing to build a society where death is considered a part of life and to ensure that everyone has access to outstanding palliative and end of life care.


Sarah Styles, from Chippenham, shared this, “Mum was my world. We were always very close and when she was diagnosed it tore my world apart. When I came to visit her in Winsley I was shocked as I thought hospices were for one reason – you go there to die. I thought it would be sterile and like a hospital. That was far from the truth – it was stunningly beautiful and the staff were out of this world. They always had time to talk, listen or just give you a hug when you needed it. Mum loved it and said it was where she wanted to go at the end.


“Towards the end it was difficult.  She’d had a stroke and wasn’t able to communicate but the staff treated her with great dignity, kindness and love. We were all with her at the end, and were able to say goodbye. Death is normal and being scared is the most normal thing in the world. But with the support of an organisation like Dorothy House, your perceptions can change.”


To find out more about the Dorothy House Strategy