Experts stress importance of 'putting end-of-life plans in place'

People are increasingly comfortable talking about death but too many are not "getting their affairs in order", experts have warned.

The Dying Matters Coalition and the National Council for Palliative Care encouraged people to put end-of-life plans in place saying the process "enables us to get on with living".

The organisations released a new poll to mark the Dying Matters Awareness Week that showed just a third of adults across the UK had made a will.

Meanwhile 29% of women said they had discussed their end-of-life wishes with someone compared to 21% of men.

But 52% agreed that over the past five years they had become more comfortable talking about their own death or that of people close to them.

Two-thirds of people also said they would be happy to help someone they knew organise end-of-life plans.

Claire Henry, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and Dying Matters Coalition, said: "It is good to see that so many people not only feel comfortable talking about death.

"And it's encouraging that so many people would be willing to help someone else make end-of-life plans, and that so many feel they have someone they could go to for help.

"But it is concerning that this talk is not resulting in more action to get our plans and affairs in order.

"Talking about death is nothing to be scared of, and won't make it happen.

"We all need to start to have this 'big conversation' as part of the way we plan and prepare for all the important things in life. And words need to be followed by action.

"We need to talk to our loved ones about what we want, sort our plans out, write them down and make sure people know where to find them.

"Putting our end-of-life plans in place enables us to get on with living. It takes a weight off our minds, and makes things easier for those we love as well."

Commenting on the poll, Nicole Woodyatt, end-of-life care programme lead at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "It's great to see that, as a nation, we are becoming more comfortable talking about death; after all it is an inevitability we will all face. But it's worrying that so many people - nearly half - would still struggle to talk about their own death or the death of someone close to them.

"If people don't let those around them know about their care preferences - for example, where they would prefer to die, or whether there are treatments they know they don't want to have - it could mean that someone's important last wishes aren't fulfilled."

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