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The challenges healthcare professionals face while caring for the dying were in the spotlight when Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust held a special end of life conference.

Almost 200 delegates registered for the event, which was titled ‘Dealing with dying – why is it so difficult?’

The conference was aimed at everyone involved in the care of dying patients, including consultants and GPs, doctors in training, nurses and healthcare assistants, pastoral care workers, clinical psychologists and physiotherapists, among others.

Topics included considering a carer’s perspective, the difficulties in discussing the end of life and breaking bad news to loved ones.

The conference also addressed challenges presented by multiculturalism and religion at the end of life.

In between presentations, actors helped the delegates with interactive role play to address various scenarios.

Bruce Montgomery, chairman of the end of life steering group at Frimley Park Hospital, said the conference aimed to equip staff with more skills to communicate with and look after dying patients and their families.

He said: “We want to help educate healthcare workers so that everyone in hospital, not just the palliative care team, is aware of how to care for a dying patient.

“We only have one chance to get it right and it is important that we do it to the best of our ability.

“Frimley has a very good record of looking after the dying but we can always do better.

“We designed a day involving speakers and experts in their field talking about hope, about the difficulties in talking about dying, about the spiritual and cultural differences we encounter as well as the ethical and legal difficulties.

“We also wanted to look at how we document discussions that take place with patients and their families so that we can ensure their wishes are met as they approach the end of their lives.”

The conference was held at Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green on 6 October, where owners Bob and Barbara Potter have been long-time supporters of Frimley Park Hospital and made the venue available free of charge.

Mr Montgomery added: “The enthusiasm for the event has been great and the venue has been fantastic, so we are very grateful to the Potters for making it available.”

Another end of life conference is likely to be held in 2018.

  • Picture shows Bruce Montgomery (second left) with, from left, Mary Hayes, head of cancer and end of life care, Barbara Potter, Surrey Heath mayor Councillor Valerie White, Bob Potter, and Dr Beata LeBon, consultant in palliative medicine.