Dying Matters Awareness Week: We're here to help

Friday, 12 May 2017

In today's blog, Occupational Therapist Michaela Kirby discusses how she supports patients in exploring their choices and making changes to adjust to living with a life-limiting condition.

Dying Matters week provides lots of opportunities for discussion and reflection on the topic of dying and death but, for me, it is also about focusing on learning to live as fully as you are able, even with a life-limiting condition. Some people may have lived for many years with a life-limiting illness and had time to adjust to the changes this may bring, for others there may have not been as much time to adjust or plan.

One thing I really enjoy about being an Occupational Therapist is the opportunity to explore with people what their choices are and support changes to make things seem more manageable and achievable. I feel very fortunate to work in a setting where the services provided mean that patients have so much choice in how they want to adjust to living with a life-limiting condition. Whether it’s education on managing symptoms, adaptations to the home or accessing complementary therapies, there are plenty of solutions that meeting with a Therapist across our different settings can help with.

I tend to meet with people in their homes, where we focus on day-to-day activities and discuss area’s that have become more difficult to manage. But it’s not just about adaptations and equipment – it’s also about getting to know you and what’s important for you, your family and those supporting your care. It’s about problem solving and thinking how we can best support your needs – and this is different for everyone. So, what can you do?

Planning ahead for how and where you want your care needs met helps us to plan together. It is not always possible to project ahead exactly what your needs may be, but if you or those advocating for you know what’s important to you then, when the time comes, we can take all your preferred choices in to account. This could be thinking about where in the home you’d want to be cared for if stairs became too challenging or who you’d want to be your main carer if needed. We can support families to take on caring roles and provide training, if any is needed.

The other thing you can do is ask for support from those who have the experience to help. For many who have previously been fit and well, it’s a huge and sometimes difficult adjustment to live with conditions that limit function. We are here to help, so please do get in touch if anything from this blog resonates with you.