Campaign launched to allow ill people in Hertfordshire to die at home

A NEW campaign, where very ill people put a message in a bottle in their fridge to say they wish to die at home, has been launched.

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust is leading the Message in a Bottle campaign, which allows people to communicate how they wish to be cared for – enabling them to die in their own home if they wish.

A spokesman said: “When facing a life-limiting illness, it can be hard for the person involved, or their families, to talk openly about the realities of death.

“Indeed many people are unaware totally that there is help available to plan and express their wishes about where they would like to be cared for and die.”

He added: “Too often an on-call doctor or ambulance crew called out in an emergency, who rarely will be familiar with the person for whom they are caring, are faced with an extremely ill patient, who may even be in the terminal stage of their illness.

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“Their first duty is to help the patient and family; without adequate documented information being available, invariably this may mean an unnecessary, and sometimes distressing, journey to hospital.

“This is where the Trust’s Message in a Bottle campaign can make a real difference.”

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Carolyn Fowler, the Mount Vernon Cancer Network Education lead and who is based at the QE2 Hospital, in Welwyn Garden City, said: “Our job is to help our patients and their families understand the issues involved and what they can do.

“If they wish to die at home, we can help ensure that the necessary documentation is completed and stored safely, ready for any eventuality.”

* The containers are kept in the fridge so paramedics know where to look.

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