27 June 2014
Few people like to think about dying, let alone talk about it with friends and family. That’s why Macmillan Cancer Support and the Public Health Agency have published a free booklet, 'Your Life and Your Choices: Plan ahead'.
George O’Neill was 89 when he died. The West Belfast widower was suffering from a serious lung condition that made it difficult for him to breathe. George made it clear to his family and specialist nurse that he wanted to stay at home, rather than be admitted to hospital. This information was included in his medical notes and George passed away very peacefully in his sleep, just as he and his family had wanted.
George O’Neill jr, George’s son and a Belfast GP, said: "My father made it very clear to the whole family that he didn’t want to go anywhere near any institution – no matter what. As a society, we talk openly about sex, violence, and money – but never death. If someone makes their wishes known, family disagreements can be avoided. And remember that people can change their minds at any point.”
Our 'Your Life and Your Choices: Plan ahead' booklet has been reworked in line with Northern Ireland legislation from our award winning English version, that won the 2013 BMA Patient Information Resource of the Year.
It provides information on various aspects of advance care planning, as well as making a will, creating enduring power of attorney, organ donation and funeral planning. While advance statements are not legally binding, they must be taken into consideration by carers and health professionals.
57-year-old Gary Hunter from Comber, a father of three with an incurable form of leukaemia, believes it's important for someone with a long term or life-threatening condition to make their wishes known.
"As I become less well, I wanted my wife to be involved in making decisions about my care and I wanted to be kept fully informed about what’s happening to me too. Thinking about an advance care plan allows health care professionals to discuss your wishes and determine whether what you want is realistic or achievable."
Heather Monteverde, General Manager for Macmillan in Northern Ireland, said: "We should all plan for our future - and this is even more important for people living with cancer or another serious illness, in case they become unable to make choices for themselves."
You can download or order your free copy of our 'Your life and your choices: plan ahead' booklet from be.macmillan.org.uk. Copies are also available at Macmillan information and support centres.