Shining a light on end of life care

10 March 2022

by Kate Le Sueur, Head of Chaplaincy – North, MHA

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Talking about dying is often kept for dark, quiet corners in our society; words to be whispered, if spoken at all, feelings to be guarded. It’s something that, as a chaplain, I’m passionate about bringing those conversations into the light. It’s a privilege to be there at the end of someone’s life, and it’s one that’s earned. 

As we get to know our residents we find that they often have very clear ideas about how they would like to be cared for in their last days and we do our best to record and then enact those wishes. Usually, those wishes revolve around their closest family and friends and relationships can be deepened as they approach the end. The last weeks and days of a person’s life can be the most precious of times. If we’re lucky, there may be opportunities to say some of the things we’ve never voiced when a person was well. “Thank you.” “I love you.” “Please forgive me.” 

At MHA we care for a resident’s family and friends just as much as we care for the resident themselves and these bonds can also deepen over time. Some relatives and friends continue to support the home even after their family member has died.

We work hard at supporting all our colleagues to have the confidence to talk openly about death and dying so that anyone can express their wishes in their own time and to a person they trust. That might be the chaplain or could just as easily be the domestic coming to empty the bin or the maintenance person coming to change a lightbulb. Death is part of life and something that will happen to every single one of us so we want it to be a natural part of the conversation for anyone who wants to talk about it.

MHA chaplains support family and friends and will often be asked to conduct the funeral service, offering continuing care for as long as it’s needed. Recently, a resident who was a life-long Christian was coming to the end of her life and there was a concern that the chaplain may not arrive in time. So the music therapist called the chaplain to ask for the resident’s favourite hymns and was able to sing those as the resident took her last breaths, surrounded by the familiar sounds of a lifetime of faith.

 

To find out more about MHA’s chaplaincy support, visit our chaplaincy page > 

 

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