Death, dying and bereavement are taboo subjects in our society, yet they are an inevitable and unavoidable fact. Over the last 50 years or so, dying has become a medical issue, the responsibility of professionals, and hidden from view as much as possible.

But dying is not something which happens in the last day or two of life – it happens over months or years and mainly happens in communities, surrounded (if we are lucky) by friends and families.

As we approach the end of our life we want to be pain free and comfortable, but we also need to avoid loneliness and isolation, to maintain a purpose in life, and to have important conversations with people who matter to us. We want to “Live Right up to the End”

It is true that health and social care professionals have an important role in supporting people who are dying and bereaved, but our communities and citizens also have a role and a responsibility.

A Compassionate community is one which encourages, facilitates, supports and celebrates care for one another during life’s most testing moments and experiences. This includes chronic illness and disability, ageing, dementia, end of life, bereavement and grief.

Many people feel that we have lost that caring and compassion for our neighbours in today’s busy world. Strathcarron Compassionate Communities team has been listening carefully to people across Forth Valley, and it is clear that good neighbours and caring communities can still be found. Strathcarron Compassionate Communities team wants to work with local people to support and develop the assets and resources which exist.

Over the last 5 years Strathcarron Compassionate Communities team have secured funding from a variety of sources ( including South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, St James Place Foundation, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership) to explore ways in which we can support our local communities to be Compassionate Communities.

We have taken time to get to know our local communities, to meet with, talk to and listen to ordinary people. We asked people what matters to them, and what is important in the latter stages of life. We also asked people about making plans for the future. The full report of this project is available below.

Living_Right_up_to_the_End_Oct_2017.pdf

In response to what people told us we are currently focusing on the following;

Strathcarron Compassionate Neighbours are volunteers who will offer a range of support to individuals and families, including helping them to stay connected to their community, helping them to continue to do the things they enjoy, providing a listening ear, or simply sharing a cup of tea and a blether.

Circles of Support is a way of helping a person or family which connects people who are already known to them with the aim of providing individually appropriate support. Each person in the circle has the opportunity to contribute what they can in big or small according to the time and resources they have available. A circle of support will be facilitated by a specially trained Strathcarron Compassionate Neighbour.

Information pop up stands are available with a range of information and resources to help people to think about and plan for the future. People told us that they felt it was a good thing to make plans, but they did not know what to plan for or how to start. They also told us that having conversations with their families about this was very difficult. Strathcarron Compassionate Communities team worked with two groups of people to identify resources which would help them to make plans and to talk to their families about it. These pop ups are provided by people with lived experience of long term conditions or of being a carer.  The stands can be provided at community group meetings, health centres, libraries, supermarkets or events such as cares forums.

If you would like to find out more about Compassionate Communities at Strathcarron please contact Susan High or Mandy Ross on 01324 826222.

[email protected]

[email protected]