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LISTEN: What can you do before death?

LISTEN: What can you do before death?

Published at 4:29pm 8th May 2017. (Updated at 11:25am 12th May 2017)

Families across Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale are being encouraged to have open conversations about death.

This year's Dying Matters Awareness Week is asking everyone "What can you do?" and highlighting the importance of discussing issues such as end-of-life care, funerals and bereavement.

To help raise awareness of the campaign, hospitals, charities and other organisations have arranged exhibitions and other events during the week.

Noreen Hawkshaw, Lead Nurse for Cancer and End-of-Life Care at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre in Harrogate, told Stray FM: "As a society, we're not particularly good at having those conversations that can feel quite uncomfortable, but what we want to do is to try to make that a fairly normal thing, so that people can talk about what their wishes might be as they come towards the end of their life.

"If we can encourage people to do that, it's more likely that their wishes will be achievable. It makes it so much easier for our loved ones if we say what we want towards the end of our life, because that death could be expected or it could be very much unexpected, and having to think about what that loved one would want, throughout that very difficult time, it just adds more stress to the situation."

Katie Shepherd, a palliative care specialist nurse, has been telling Stray FM about events happening at Airedale Hospital:

Research suggests that most people would rather be at home when they die, but nearly 50% of deaths currently happen in hospital.

Harrogate nurse Nicola Bell cared for her dying father at home. 

She's been telling Stray FM her story: 

Harrogate-based charity Saint Michael's Hospice is also backing the campaign.

The charity provides a number of services to support patients and their families.

Its Volunteer Visitors service involves visiting people in their own home to offer advice and support. 

Kathy Newbould, Head of Inpatient Services, says it offers many benefits: 

Just B is another service provided by Saint Michael's Hospice.

The bereavement support service offers counselling to children, young people and adults in the Harrogate District.

During Dying Matters Awareness Week, the service is encouraging people to talk about and share their grief.

Claire Godden is Head of Adult Services at Just B: 

As part of the campaign, we're also being urged to plan our own funeral.

The average funeral currently costs around £3,500 and that figure is set to rise to around £4,300 in the next couple of years.

Phil Bremner, Welfare and Benefits Adviser at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, has advice on how to get financial support:

So, how can we make a difference after dying?

Becoming an organ donor is one option, but medical researchers in Yorkshire are encouraging us to donate some of our tissue.

They say that just a small amount could help them find new ways of treating and curing illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes.

Research nurse Joanne Malarkey works for a human tissue bank based at the University of Bradford:

There is more information about becoming a human tissue donor at

You can find out more about Just B at

More information about the Dying Matters campaign at