Hospice conference aims to raise the bar on compassionate communication

A leading Lancashire hospice is set to host a conference designed for legal and financial professionals sharing good practice in how to communicate with clients and their loved ones about end of life issues.

St Catherine’s Hospice near Preston has organised the Raising the Bar on Compassionate Communication event on February 9 2018, which will share practical skills and expert advice in order to help patients and families have the best possible experience at an already difficult time.

It is aimed at solicitors and other legal professionals, as well as financial planners and advisors. The idea came about following the hospice’s Advance Care Planning conference last year, which was attended by solicitors who expressed an interest in developing their skills and knowledge further.

Other legal professionals also worked with St Catherine’s on the national Dying Matters Awareness Week campaign in May – an initiative which aims to open taboo topics around death and dying – and the conference builds on the positive relationships formed as part of that.

Lynn Kelly, Director of Knowledge Exchange at St Catherine’s, explained: “When someone receives a diagnosis of a serious illness, not only are there so many emotions to deal with – shock, sadness, fear, to name but a few – there are also practical implications which can arise.

“Along with the more obvious tasks like writing a will or arranging a lasting power of attorney, someone might need advice on financing their future care, or be trying to wade their way through the ins and outs of inheritance tax legislation.

“Legal and financial professionals offer a vital service but how they approach and handle situations like this can make all the difference to the person whose life has recently been turned upside down.

“We know that talking about death, dying and planning for the end of life is difficult, and that while such professionals are highly trained and skilled in other areas, it can be an area that some struggle with. We have designed this conference to share insight gained through our extensive experience in end of life care, alongside practical skills and tips. We want to help professionals feel more confident when dealing with sensitive situations and taboo topics, whilst raising awareness and fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of the many different issues someone might be facing towards the end of life.

“It all fits with our wider work around developing a compassionate community whereby everyone feels confident and ready to support relatives, friends and neighbours at the end of life. From the neighbour who calls by to check on someone living alone at the end of the street, to the professional providing a valuable service, we want everyone to be feel able and prepared to respond with care and compassion to the people around them.”

St Catherine’s trustee John Chesworth, Executive Chairman of Harrison Drury Solicitors, welcomed the launch of the conference.

He said: “We know that contacting a legal or financial professional is often the last thing that someone in this situation wants to do – but at the same it is vital that people have the correct measures in place to be sure their wishes are carried out and their loved ones are protected and looked after.

“By taking the time to learn more about the circumstances people could be facing, and picking up some practical tips in how to deal these conversations sensitively, legal and financial professionals can reduce the stress and anxiety of their clients, helping them to tick off some of those difficult jobs that need to be done.”

The event will feature speakers from the hospice, medical and legal sectors and takes place at the hospice in Lostock Hall.

Places cost £95. To book visit www.stcatherines.co.uk or call the education team on 01772 629171.

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