End of life wishes – on one page?

One of the most powerful books that I read last year was Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. I loved it so much I bought copies for friends and colleagues. My friend Max also read the book, and yesterday posted one of those blogs that makes you hold your breath. He wrote about the impact that the book has made on him, and his thinking about the end of his life.

He reminds us of the 5 questions that Gawande suggests. These are:

1. What is your understanding of where you are and of your illness?

2. Your fears or worries for the future

3. Your goals and priorities

4. What outcomes are unacceptable to you? What are you willing to sacrifice and not?

And later,

5. What would a good day look like?

Max notes how similar these are to questions, used in ‘person centred practices’, and the ones found in Living Well  and Think About Your Life, and eloquently says:

livingwellweb_split1_Page_1“Thinking about questions like these are a way of winning back some choice and control, of working out what is important to you now and in the future and making sure that this happens, rather than being drowned in a sea of other pressing priorities.”

One way to record what is important to you is through a one-page profile, and Max has shared his through his blog. A one-page profile captures what matters now. Atul Gawande’s questions, and the ones in Living Well are about the future. I wondered with Max whether a summary of your end of life wishes, on one page could be helpful? Max joked that that would be a lot to get on one page, and that is true! And as with a one-page profile, it would need to be a summary of the most important information to share.

I have been talking to my colleague Sarah Russell about the same thing and Max’s blog has prompted me to make this a priority for early 2016.

How can we take the essence of Gawande’s questions, and the priority information to share on one page? This is not to replace Living Well, but as a kind of executive summary.

I wonder whether our colleagues at Eden Valley hospice and St Clare’s would help us test and explore this in practice?

Could we develop this together, through blogs and conversation and see if we can co-create something that we would each want to use?

Please get in touch if you interested in being part of this too.

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