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End-of-life conversations and care: an asset-based model for community engagement
  1. Mary Matthiesen1,
  2. Katherine Froggatt2,
  3. Elaine Owen3 and
  4. John R Ashton4,5
  1. 1The Conversations for Life Programme, Stories to Change, CIC, Staveley, Cumbria, UK
  2. 2International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  3. 3Cheshire and Merseyside Clinical Networks, Bromborough, UK
  4. 4Faculty of Public Health, London, UK
  5. 5Department of Public Health, NHS Cumbria, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mary Matthiesen, The Conversations for Life Programme, Stories to Change, CIC, Staveley, Cumbria LA8 9LR, UK; mary{at}conversationsforlife.co.uk

Abstract

Background Public awareness work regarding palliative and end-of-life care is increasingly promoted within national strategies for palliative care. Different approaches to undertaking this work are being used, often based upon broader educational principles, but little is known about how to undertake such initiatives in a way that equally engages both the health and social care sector and the local communities. An asset-based community engagement approach has been developed that facilitates community-led awareness initiatives concerning end-of-life conversations and care by identifying and connecting existing skills and expertise.

Aims (1) To describe the processes and features of an asset-based community engagement approach that facilitates community-led awareness initiatives with a focus on end-of-life conversations and care; and (2) to identify key community-identified priorities for sustainable community engagement processes.

Methods An asset-based model of community engagement specific to end-of-life issues using a four-step process is described (getting started, coming together, action planning and implementation). The use of this approach, in two regional community engagement programmes, based across rural and urban communities in the northwest of England, is described.

Findings The assets identified in the facilitated community engagement process encompassed people's talents and skills, community groups and networks, government and non-government agencies, physical and economic assets and community values and stories. Five priority areas were addressed to ensure active community engagement work: information, outreach, education, leadership and sustainability.

Conclusions A facilitated, asset-based approach of community engagement for end-of-life conversations and care can catalyse community-led awareness initiatives. This occurs through the involvement of community and local health and social care organisations as co-creators of this change across multiple sectors in a sustainable way. This approach provides a framework for other communities seeking to engage with public awareness in end-of-life issues.

  • palliative care
  • community development
  • public health & end of life care
  • social change
  • advance care planning
  • Supportive care
  • Received 9 May 2013.
  • Revision received 9 October 2013.
  • Accepted 5 November 2013.

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