Background Talking about death and dying is a tough subject, however, it is something that is going to happen to all of us. The concept of death cafés was developed by Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid in 2011 to provide a secure place to talk openly about death, dying and bereavement and to help people make the most of their finite lives (http://deathcafe.com; Miles & Corr, 2017).
Aims Ashgate Hospicecare wants to build on the death café movement and take away the taboo of a subject that we all face. We also aim to use these events to tackle the misconceptions surrounding hospice culture.
Method In 2016, Ashgate Hospicecare’s first death café was held in a local library with support from solicitors and funeral directors. By 2018, the event was held at a unit in the town centre over two days and within the hospice for one day. Each year, more interactive opportunities were available for the general public and hospice staff than the previous year, such as creating memory boxes, finger print keyrings, thinking about your funeral song and creating a bucket list. We have measured the success of the cafés by recording attendance rates and through conducting qualitative surveys.
Results Attendance rates: 2016: 19, 2017: 43, 2018: 82.
Conclusion During the three years of death cafés at Ashgate Hospicecare, there has been an evident growth in attendance rates. To complement this, the surveys have shown more positive feedback from death café attendees and growing interest from outside organisations who want to be involved in future events. Moving forward, Ashgate Hospicecare aims to run death cafés throughout the year, working in partnership with other community groups, such as schools and clinical organisations. We strongly believe in the importance of raising awareness around death and dying and helping people plan for their future.
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