In 2009, the Dying Matters Coalition was set up to promote public awareness of dying, death and bereavement. The aim was to address society’s lack of openness and to encourage people to talk about their wishes towards the end of their lives with friends, family and loved ones, including thinking about where they want to die.
A Dying Matters survey was conducted at St Peters Hospital (ASPH), a District General Hospital in Surrey, UK. The aim was to open the discussion about death and dying to the ASPH community and determine ‘what matters’ to ASPH about death and dying.
Methods Potential participants were all people (including patients, relatives and staff) entering the hospital during dying matters week (May 2016). These participants were approached to complete a short anonymous questionnaire and provided free text comments. Participants were able to choose any number of areas of care that ‘mattered’ to them.
Results One hundred and seventy-seven completed questionnaires were returned. One hundred and twenty nine (73%) were from females, and the majority of respondents were aged between 25–64 years old (n=138, 78%). The element of care with the greatest response was ‘being involved in care decisions’ (n=152, 86%). ‘Being with those who are important to you’ and compassionate care were the next most important (n=144, 81%). Symptom control mattered for 60% (n=106). Dying at home for 64% (n=114). Analysis of free text comments showed a positive response to the dying matters awareness survey.
Conclusion This survey shows it is possible to engage an acute hospital community in dying awareness discussions. Of interest is the large majority of participants felt ‘being involved in care decisions’ was the most important element of care. Patient involvement in care decisions through shared decision making is pivotal to getting dying right for all.