This Dying Matters Awareness Week, we are highlighting the importance of the language used in relation to hospice and palliative care services


Dying Matters Awareness Week encourages people around the UK to talk about death and dying in a way that is comfortable to them.


This year’s theme is ‘The way we talk about Dying Matters’, focusing on the language we use and the conversations we have about death and dying, specifically between healthcare professionals and patients, their carers and their families.


We want to take this opportunity to share a piece of language work we have done to encourage more people to access our services and ensure they understand what we are offering. Using a survey, we sought feedback on some of the terminology commonly used to describe terminal illnesses.


A key strategy for Myton is to reach people earlier in their illness so we can support them for longer and make a difference to their quality of life. We wanted to identify phrases that would effectively communicate this when describing eligibility for our services. The phrases we explored were:


  • A life-limiting illness
  • A terminal illness
  • An incurable illness
  • A non-curative illness
  • Palliative care needs


Providing the space to explain their preferences, we delved into the interpretations of each phrase as well as opinions regarding the use of the words ‘illness’, ‘condition’ and ‘disease’. Additionally, we welcomed alternative suggestions for helpful terminology that could be used.


With over 1,500 responses from a diverse array of stakeholders including service users, staff, volunteers, referrers, other healthcare professionals, supporters and the public, we gained valuable insights to guide our decisions in what terminology we use when talking about our services and who we can support.


When ranking the phrases from preferred to least favoured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest, ‘a life-limiting illness’ proved to be the most commonly chosen option.


Respondents believed this has less intimidating connotations compared to some of the others and has the potential to mitigate initial fears following a diagnosis, highlighting the capacity for decision-making and living life to the fullest.


Based on this valuable feedback, we have transitioned from leading with ‘a terminal illness’ to ‘a life-limiting illness’ within many of our communications to reflect the perceptions of those surveyed.


By embracing this change, we hope to challenge misconceptions surrounding hospices and palliative care and continue to break down barriers to ensure individuals receive helpful information and support when they need it.


We are proud to be supporting Dying Matters Awareness Week to encourage people across Coventry and Warwickshire to get together to have end-of-life conversations. Because the way we talk about Dying Matters.


Find us at Coughton Court, National Trust property...


Our Community Engagement Manager, Olivia Bowskill (Registered Nurse), will be joining Coughton Court, National Trust property, with their Dying Matters Awareness Week activities on Friday 10th May from 12pm – 4pm.


Olivia will be available to chat, answer questions and provide a deeper insight into the work we do at The Myton Hospices.


Whether you want to know more about Myton, are interested in our services, or just want to say hello, Olivia will be there to welcome you!

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