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P-1 The elephant in the room. Promoting advance care planning in north east essex
  1. Sally Thompson and
  2. Karen Chumbley
  1. St Helena, Colchester, UK


Background In 2008 an end of life care government strategy cited research which showed that people don’t want to spend their last year or last days in hospital but this often occurred due to poorly coordinated crisis driven care. In response to this in 2013 the My Care Choices Register (MCCR) was launched to record end of life care choices for those living in north east Essex with an incurable illness, dementia and frailty.

Aims A marketing campaign was commissioned by the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance in October 2018 with a budget of £50,000 with the aim to:

  • Raise public awareness in north east Essex amongst local people about the MCCR;

  • Enable potentially difficult conversations with loved ones;

  • Enable more people to access the My Care Choices Register.

Method An ‘elephant in the room’ campaign, with the elephant representing the conversation about future care including death and dying. The elephant appeared on backs of buses, bus tickets, bus stops, petrol nozzles, pharmacy bags, village publications, pens, mouse mats and key rings. We covered a diverse range of options to ensure we targeted as many people as possible. Segmenting this market was particularly difficult. The key promotional tool was an animation entitled ‘The elephant in the room’. Produced as a modest, yet sophisticated old style cartoon to appeal to all ages. It has the ability to be a ‘white label’ film to be used by other organisations wishing to promote advance care planning.

Results 1083 new register entries were created between 1 October 2018 and 31 March 2019, a 22% increase in new entries from the same period in 2017/18.

Conclusion A good budget and a simple idea can be very effective in promoting a sensitive and taboo subject, encouraging choice for people living with life limiting illness.

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