good life, good death, good grief

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No One Dies Alone

In this special blog to mark Death Awareness Week Scotland, Alison Bunce talks about Compassionate Inverclyde, a programme aiming to enable and empower individuals and communities to help and support each other at times of increased health need, at end of life and in bereavement.

What is a compassionate community?

Prof Allan Kellehear and colleagues provide a helpful answer to that question in the “Compassionate City Charter” (2016):

“A community that publicly encourages, facilitates, supports and celebrates care for one another during life’s most testing moments and experiences…. and that recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility”.

In Inverclyde, we’re using shorter words, but that it basically what we’re trying to create. We’re working to build a “compassionate community” based on three things... compassion, help and neighbourliness.

Compassion is about people undertaking acts of kindness. Help is about both providing help, and enabling people who are in need to say ‘yes’. And neighbourliness is about ordinary people helping ordinary people.

Launched in March, the Compassionate Inverclyde Programme aims to enable and empower individuals and communities to help and support each other at times of increased health need, at end of life and in bereavement, recognising the importance of families, friends and communities working alongside formal services.

One way we’re planning to do this is through the No-one Dies Alone (NODA) programme...

NODA is an all-volunteer, grassroots program which provides support to those in their last hours of life who do not have family or friends available to be with them at this time.

NODA originated in the USA, when an American nurse Sandra Clarke failed to be with a patient who had asked her to be with him when he died. Sandra got caught up with other duties and when she returned to the patient’s room he had died. This troubled her for many years and she went onto develop the NODA programme.

I’m pleased to be involved in the first Scottish pilot of the NODA programme, at Inverclyde Royal Hospital. It will become one of over 200 hospitals across the world running the programme, joining over 200 hospitals in the USA, Singapore and Canada.

Through this and other initiatives, were hoping that the Compassionate Inverclyde will have a transformative effect on the community of Inverclyde, developing social capital, building community capacity and resilience and positively influencing the lives of individual community members.

Alison Bunce, Compassionate Inverclyde Programme Lead

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