We all experience hard things, like death, mental health issues or loneliness to name just a few. It’s often the small acts of kindness that make the biggest difference to help us through.
In order to address inequalities, provide truly person-centred care and support the people around us, we must lead with compassion.
Communities in Sheffield have compassion, but sometimes lack the confidence to know how to help. Compassionate Sheffield is working to create spaces within the city’s civic programme and encouraging confidence amongst communities, to support one another with death and dying.
Where has this come from?
The Compassionate City and Compassionate Communities movement is a global phenomenon that has been embraced from Taiwan to Toronto.
In 2018, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Health and Social Services set out his aspirations for Wales to become the world’s first ‘compassionate country’. Since then, work has been ongoing to spread the compassionate approach throughout Wales.
The concept was brought to Sheffield in 2019 and formed part of the city’s Joint Health and Well Being Strategy 2019 – 2024, using ‘End of Life’ as a focal point to start embedding the approach. A partnership formed between Sheffield’s Public Health Office at Sheffield City Council, the NHS’s Clinical Commissioning Group and St Luke’s Hospice.
In August 2021, the programme officially launched with the appointment of a Programme Manager, Nick Deayton [email protected].
What is the model for ‘End of Life’?
Compassionate Sheffield is heavily influenced by ‘Palliative Care: The New Essentials’ (diagram below), which acknowledges the function of four main areas and how these different elements impact on our experience of death, dying, loss and bereavement.
- Civic institutions (schools, libraries, employers, museums, places of worship, etc.) can provide the space and opportunity for us to improve our emotional intelligence around death.
- Communities are not only identified by where we live, but also by how we define ourselves, for example; friendship group, family, work team, ethnicity etc. In these groups we all experience death, dying, loss and bereavement, it is always present.
- Specialist palliative care is accessed during periods of acute need and due to its specialist nature, provision is limited.
- Generalist palliative care is an integral part of all care services that interact with people who require support with death, dying, loss and bereavement.
Compassionate Sheffield is a public health and community development approach to death, dying, loss and bereavement. It is working to become the chain that links together these different cogs, in order to improve our experience of life and death.
What is happening?
Advance Care Planning: Community engagement and video resources
Partnering with the NHS, OPUS Independents and local community groups, we are investigating why communities within Page Hall, Burngreave and Firth Park tend not to share their end of life plans with NHS services, through ‘Advance Care Planning’. By conducting interviews and hosting focus groups we are bringing communities closer to primary care services. During this process we will capture video content in order to create shareable videos that will support primary care services and individual communities with the advanced care planning process.
Covid Memorial Project: Let’s celebrate the small acts of kindness, support positive change and remember those we have lost.
Partnering with Sheffield City Council and OPUS Independents, we are co-ordinating the city’s Covid Memorial activity. To ensure the city’s memorial activity is representative of the experiences of people and their communities we have designed three core elements to the project. Gathering individual stories, community grants programme and central memorial activity.
Death is a Part of Life: Let’s talk about it …
Partnering with Lab4Living and Death Cafes Sheffield, we are holding events that encourage people to talk about death. The conversations are not therapy sessions, but rather a safe and supportive space to explore the topic of death. Everyone is welcome and everyone brings their own perspective. We are looking to grow this movement by supporting people in Sheffield to host their own conversations.
Death rituals and symbols: Community arts project
Partnering with Ignite Imaginations, we are creating pieces of art with five different communities from across Sheffield. Their work will be based on the topic of death and elements that are unique to each of those communities. After creating these individual pieces, we will bring the different groups together to showcase their work. With the ambition of using the universal topic of death to connect across communities, whilst celebrating the different approach in each community.
Navigating the End of Life
Partnering with St Luke’s Hospice, SCCCC, Sheffield Mind and local End of Life Doulas we are delivering workshops to staff and volunteers to help enhance their work in current roles. The workshops are focused on improving confidence to provide practical and person-centred support to people as they approach the end of their life. Staff and volunteers naturally interact with people who are dying as part of their role, and we want to add confidence to their compassion and equip them with some extra relevant knowledge that will help them provide non-clinical support to the person who is dying. After piloting these workshops, our ambition is to make resources and events available to anyone who wants to learn more, including members of the public.
Could the ‘compassionate approach’ be applied beyond the ‘End of Life’ context
Compassion can be applied to any interaction, programme, organisation, event etc. We are working to raise its profile and harness the power of ‘compassion’.
By being present, actively listening to understand, empathising with people and then acting to help – we are being compassionate.
The structure can be applied to leadership, patient care, trauma informed care, person-centred care, better conversations, community engagement, social isolation, family dynamics, tackling inequalities and many more areas.
We are starting with ‘end of life’ but our ambition is to work together to make Sheffield the most compassionate city in the world.
How to get involved?
- An individual – Anyone can get involved. Share your story of the pandemic, attend a session, host a death café, have a new idea, do a small thing that makes a big difference.
- A community representative – Become part of the movement by: applying for a Covid Memorial Community Grant, explore how we can support one another with death, be part of an existing project, lead with compassion.
- An organisation – Partner with us on a new project or get involved in an existing project, commit to being a ‘compassionate organisation’.
If you would like to get involved in Compassionate Sheffield please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Nick Deayton on the details below.
[email protected] – 07851 240523