My name is Fallon Scaife and I am in the final year of my adult nursing degree. I have spent many years working in elderly care and I have been offered a job working in elderly medicine with a special interest in Dementia care for when I qualify. I became involved in the let’s talk death group because I wanted to understand more about supporting people who are dying and their loved ones. One of the biggest challenges faced is being able to have open and honest conversations about death. I have found this is something that is not always approached correctly by professionals and can have a massive impact on care. I had never heard of a death café before and was not sure what to expect from it, but we managed to create a safe space in which many conversations took place. I was surprised at how open people were to talking about death and dying. This made me realise that perhaps professionals do not always feel comfortable to broach the subject with someone who is facing death rather than it being the person themselves who does not want to talk about it. Being involved in last year’s death cafes helped me when I was given a palliative care placement as I found that it really helped me to have more open conversations with people who were facing death and I feel that I was able to support them better.
I am looking forward to being involved with this year’s death café as we are focusing how people in our community face death and dying. This is because I had an experience of looking after a Buddhist family whilst on my palliative care placement and found that I had no awareness of their beliefs surrounding death. It was only when I looked things up afterwards, that I understood why the body was not to be moved for at least 8 hours following death and why there had been so many people there when the person died. I was not aware that in their culture, the amount of people who were around them when they died showed how well respected they were and that not moving the body allows the spirit to pass into the afterlife. I feel that having this knowledge would have improved the care I provided to the family following the death, as I would have had more understanding of what the family may have expected from the professionals looking after them. I am hoping that following this year’s death café and conference I will understand more about how death is approached differently by everyone living in our community.