Delivering a public health initiative around end of life conversations and care (August 2012) In June 2012, Katherine Froggat, International Observatory of End of Life Care Lancaster University, Lancaster, presented Conversations for Life outcomes at the 7th World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), in Trondheim, Norway.

View the poster ‘Conversatons for Life: Implementation of a pilot public awareness campaign about end of life issues’ here.

Gaining multi-staff awareness and team support for advance care conversations (July 2012)  According to the National End of Life Care Strategy and a recent Northwest Scoping of End of Life training for health and social care staff, all staff must become more comfortable with their role in advance care conversations and end of life care if improving care of the dying is to be achieved.

As part of strategic interventions, to date more than 200 staff representing multiple services (see below) have attended our 1 day “Simple Tools to Start the Conversation” sessions focusing on supporting staff to overcome the fear of talking about death and dying in order to improve patient care and provides tools to assist them to begin to apply what they learn personally and with those in their care as a result. Sessions have been commissioned by GMCCN, NHS Manchester, NHS Salford, NHS Trafford, Pennine Care Foundation Trust, MacMillan and others.

Multi-service staff attend each session, providing greater awareness and wisdom shared, while supporting end of life, palliative care, and care pathway (LCP, GSF, PPC) interventions and projects.

Compassionate Communities…..How to Begin (June 2012) The evaluation of the national Dying matters week in one region in March 2010 identified the need to engage with the community as an ongoing initiative rather than just a one week campaign every year. Merseyside Clinical Networks Palliative and End of Life Care Network, local hospice and voluntary leads and community organisations partnered together to engage their communities. Mary Matthiesen, Director of The Conversations for Life programme provided materials to support them, facilitated local engagement events, produced summary reports / action plans and delivered follow up sessions based on mobilizing the existing strengths in these communities. Local hospices or community volunteer agencies including VCA Wirral, Halton Haven Hospice, Liverpool PCT /Marie Curie Hospice, Liverpool, Queenscourt Hospice, Southport, Western Cheshire PCT/Hospice of the Good Shepard, and Woodlands Hospice championed the initiative in their communities.

135 community group leaders have been engaged across 6 localities. Self-directed, community-led awareness initiatives are underway. Outcomes were presented at the International Society of Advance Care Planning & End of Life Care and published in the BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care Journal (June 2012).

What’s Possible?  In July 2011 Conversations for Life Director Mary Matthiesen presented the attached presentation at the 2nd Annual International conference on Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care.  There is still a significant gap between what people hope for and achieve around end of life care. Yet what’s possible in communities if we work together around a common message and goal? This brief presentation offers her philosophy and approach, pilot project outcomes, a possible way forward, and an international invitation.  See also the 1 minute video clip below.

Link to the IACP website:

This one minute film clip was also shared;








More good news…

The Conversations for Life programme is proving effective, inspiring and engaging the public, staff and communities in one of the most significant conversations of our time. Getting the care we want for our future depends on starting these conversations now.  How do we know….

Winter Greetings

Want some good news? We all want the best for our future care Although it doesn’t make the news, the public, staff, professionals, and commissioners all share this common goal. All care starts with conversations- between families, staff, systems, and communities.  As you reflect on your year, remembering those you care for, may you be reminded of precious moments shared and conversations that made a difference-but didn’t make the news.  Look who’s starting the conversations….

Patients, Families, Carers…..A Call To Share Your Views

Are you a patient, carer or family member living in the Northwest? This is a chance to help professionals learn from your experience and improve end of life care for the future. The University of Central Lancashire would like to hear your views as part of a study to improve end of life care education for health and social care staff in the future. To take part please contact Dr. Terri O’Brien at 01772 892730 or download the PDF flyer attached.

Welcome to our new website!

We are delighted to be able to launch the Conversations for Life Programme with this new website!

Five years ago I held a conversation with my own mother that changed everything for her last days of living and I dreamt of being able to provide others with the information and tools to support what they want for their families and communities. Last year, with the support of many others, we developed and launched The Cumbria Conversations for Life pilot programme in collaboration with NHS Cumbria to help break the taboo Read the rest of this entry »

Excerpt from “One Woman’s Choice” (c) 2005

“I guess I’ve known I was coming to the end of my life, but I was avoiding it. I don’t want to struggle anymore.” My mother was speaking from her heart and I was listening.

It was just an ordinary day when my mother and I had the most important conversation of our lives. She was chronically but not terminally ill at the time, we did not speak about advance directives, and she was not asking for physician-assisted suicide. Yet to my profound awe, 10 days later, she died at home.

The following days were a mix of emotions and more, entering the most profound process of her life on her terms.

It took a team to support her wishes.

It took her courageous knowing and choice to call us all to what was needed most

Read the rest of this entry »

E-Patients Interview: Mary Matthiesen, Conversations for Life

by Jon Lebkowsky on July 31, 2008

Mary Matthiesen, founder of Conversations for Life, has 17 years of front-line experience in healthcare, end of life care, and executive leadership. She’s a transpersonal educator, coach, and community facilitator, raising awareness and promoting social change in support of living and dying well. Mary and I recently discussed her focus on end of life care, and its relevance for e-patients.

Jon Lebkowsky: What led to your focus on end of life experience?

Mary Matthiesen: If I had to pinpoint a moment, it was in a hospital hallway, listening to a father tell me with pride about his daughter’s life and how much he loved her as she lay in a bed down the hall. It was her ‘dying wish’ to be an organ donor if possible. She was in her 40’s and had a brain injury that led to “brain death’-(a legal definition of death in the U.S). We were awaiting, together, the outcome of some lab tests to see if she could be an organ donor as her parents knew she’d wanted.

Read the rest of this entry »

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