To achieve our aims and put everyone at ease in the Dying to Talk Project workshops and one-to-one sessions, we decided as a Project team that we needed to inject a bit of fun.

We’ve done this in numerous ways, including:

  • The Hat Game
  • Choice boxes
  • Bucket lists
  • Feelings post box
  • Jenga
  • Conversation cards
  • Artwork sessions
  • Musical activities 

Using these creative, fun approaches allows everyone to feel in control. Clear communication starts right from the beginning of every session to ensure everyone supported (and family members if they have joined us) know what is going to happen, how it will happen, how each person will be supported, and the options open to everyone to choose how much they do, or don’t, participate.

The Dying to Talk team observe throughout every workshop and one-to-one session to make sure people are feeling ok. The ‘Post Box’ allows the team to see how people feel at the start of a session and if this feeling has stayed the same or altered by the end of the session. In addition, we regularly check-in with all participants throughout our time with them as lots of different emotions will be flying around the room.  

The Hat Game

The Hat Game is a great example of how we’ve had fun with the people we support. We ask each person supported to choose a hat, and only put the hat on if they have experienced what has been asked or like what has been spoken about.

We start with questions including:

  • Do you like pizza?
  • Do you enjoy going to the beach?  

After a few fun questions, we start to think about questions related to death and dying, including:

  • Have you ever attended a funeral?
  • Do you know a person who has died?

Asking these questions naturally leads onto further conversations about feelings, emotions, thoughts, wishes, likes and dislikes, all of which is vital information for us to know and capture into the person’s ‘My plan for before I die’ or ‘My plan for after I die’ .

Embracing emotions

Inevitably - given the subject matter - there are tears, but that’s ok. The Dying to Talk team embrace seeing different emotions, and support everyone in the room to be ok with this. There is complete freedom to get up, walk about and leave the session if the person wishes to. We have found, however, that if a person does leave the session they will almost always return. 

Creative approaches work

Our experience in the Dying to Talk Project to date has been that tailoring our approach to each individual and being creative allows the people we support to know that it’s ok to talk about death and dying.

We’d say to anyone thinking of beginning a conversation about death and dying with a person who has a learning disability to be creative and person-led when having those conversations. If it doesn’t work at first, reflect on your approach and the environment around you, and revise and revisit the topic another time. Don’t give up! 

Putting the people we support in control of their futures

The Dying to Talk Project was borne out of a need we identified to support people with learning disabilities to talk about and plan for their future. Through the work we’ve done so far, we’ve continually heard that the people we support are happy to have been given a chance to have these conversations.

With that in mind, there is no better way to end this blog than with the thoughts of Sharon, a lady we support in Chesterfield who attended one of our Dying to Talk Workshops:

"It made me feel sad but I am glad I got to speak about it. Thank you, and I would like to talk about this again with the Dying to Talk people."  

Get in touch

If you would like to find out more about our Dying to Talk project, please contact us using the form below.