Dying Matters Week

Posted: May 15 2019

HCT champions Dying Matters Week

Dying Matters Week

Carpenter family discussing their young son Freddie's palliative care before his sad death

Talking about death is always very hard, especially if it’s about a loved one. Dying Matters Week opens up that conversation and firmly puts dying, death and bereavement firmly on the national agenda.

‘End of Life Care’ (EOLC) is one of Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s (HCT) top priorities. In the last three years the trust has put in place a team of EOLC Champions across each service to raise awareness and keep staff informed around palliative and EOLC issues.

Sarah Thompson, Macmillan Clinical Educator Manager (Palliative, Frailty and End of Life Care) for HCT tells us more: “The EOLC Champions have made a huge impact on regulating the care given to end of life patients. They have volunteered to be the “go to” member of staff for their teams and are pivotal in keeping them up-to-date. Many of them are responsible for identifying which patients were likely to be in their last year of life and to ensure that we had documented where their preferred place of care and death is.”

This high level of EOLC care was also recognised by the Care Quality Commission in their last inspection of The Trust, saying they were very impressed with the commitment of our EOLC Champions.

The theme for this year’s Dying Matters Week is ‘Are We Ready?’ The work to increase the number of patients recognised as being in the last year of life enables trained staff to have conversations with them and their loved ones, about advance care panning.

Mary Heffernan, Children’s Community Nurse and Clinical Quality Lead for Palliative Care and EOLC for our Children and Young People’s service said: “Joint work is paramount when we are dealing with children and young people who are end of life and that’s why we work very closely with Keech, Rennie Grove and Noah’s Ark hospices. We only get one chance to get it right.”

The Carpenter family from Rickmansworth, Herts had to learn quickly about the importance of being prepared when a family member is coming towards the end of their life.


Last year they tragically lost their son Freddie after a brave battle against brain cancer. HCT’s Children’s Community Nursing team has played a pivotal role for the family as Natalie Carpenter tells us: “Knowing that there are people listening took the edge off that extreme worry, panic and helplessness...if we're looked after, we can look after our son Freddie.”


Natalie’s husband Martin continues: “You would think that being in your own home you’d be away from the medical world and less supported. Yet actually, in some ways you felt more supported with a dedicated team of people which came round daily and became almost a part of the family.”


Watch a clip of Natalie and Martin discussing the importance of the community care received in their home.

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk