Background The principles of running a death café are widely available (Morgan, 2017; Baldwin, 2017) but information comparing different styles, venues or promotion of cafés is unobtainable. Published Death Café model guidance advises against professionally experienced end of life care facilitators (http://deathcafe.com/how/).
Aims To share learning from three different death cafés regarding promotion, title, venues, facilitators and participants.
Method Three death cafés were run: two public and one for staff. All had clinical hospice staff as facilitators.
The 2015 public event was entitled ‘Death Café’. The venue was a suburban church hall. There were simple refreshments. The host church helped with local promotion and event organisation.
The 2018 public event was promoted by the hospice locally and via media. It was entitled ‘Everything You Wanted to Know About Dying but Were Afraid to Ask’. Drinks and cake were provided. The event was at a town edge church venue, challenging to locate. No host church involvement.
The 2018 internal event, aimed at hospice volunteers and non-clinical staff, was entitled ‘Death Café’. The venue was the main hospice building. Promotion was internal.
Results Attendance at the first and second external events was 40 and 12 respectively. Many first event participants were from the host church. Both events had participants from faith groups but no ‘passing trade’ attendees. Both venues were free. Participants easily located the suburban but not the town edge venue. The internal event was attended by 16 staff and volunteers. No staff working outside the main hospice site attended. For all events, clinical hospice facilitators were clearly beneficial in addressing participants’ fears and misinformation.
Conclusion The title Death Café does not deter attendees. Easily located venues are essential. Advertising to local faith groups is worthwhile. Fancy refreshments are unnecessary. Hosting by a faith group can reduce workload, increases attendees and reduce cost. Hospice staff are less likely to attend events outside their usual workplace. Clinically experienced facilitators are beneficial.
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