Conducting Research

Alzheimer’s Society UK

I spoke to the organiser of the local Alzheimer’s Society meetings in the hope that I could not only share my story but listen to other people’s to get a better idea of how the disease affects carers. However, the representative questioned my motives and said it was inappropriate. 

Care Homes

I rang the care homes in the Coventry area; however, the time of year is always a struggle on them as residents are getting vulnerable to disease so care workers were working at full force. Equally I enquired about volunteering and they said I would have to get in touch with the police to make my visits legal because obviously the residents are vulnerable human beings. 

However, I had a care worker email me she was telling me what she does:

Holly King: ” I help them get up and dressed and assist them to the toilet. I make their breakfast and take it to them or I assist them with their nutritional intake. I talk to them and make sure they’re feeling ok. I do pressure care as often as possible. I change their clothes if they spill something down themselves. But working in a care home has made me appreciate life more because you understand what it mans to be alive and to be more aware of the fragility of life.”

I found this Youtube video that follow’s Mandy’s story of how she is a senior nurse. It gives an insight into what she has to do.

DIGNITAS

I emailed Dignitas which is the assisted dying clinic in Switzerland where it is legal:

Von: Kate Green [mailto:kategreenphotography@hotmail.co.uk]
Gesendet: Sonntag, 29. Januar 2012 15:49
An: Dignitas
Betreff: A Couple of Questions.

To whom it may concern,

I am a first year student at Coventry University and I am doing a presentation on how we should have  right to end our own lives through assisted suicide when we are suffering with a degenerative disease.

For our presentations we must conduct first hand research and I was wondering whether you can answer these questions for me?

Why do you believe we should have a right to die?
Would you say that a lot of people who commit assisted suicide have family members with them in support?

I understand that you get a lot of emails, but any correspondence will be received with gratitude.

Thank you,

– Kate Green

To which they replied:

Dear Kate Green

Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in DIGNITAS.

First, we would like to clarify a common misunderstanding: you might have heard/read that Dignitas is a clinic. However, the “Dignitas-clinic” is an invention by some dumb journalists of the tabloids. Dignitas is neither a clinic nor a business, but a not-for-profit association in line with Swiss civil code article 60.

DIGNITAS is only a small association with very limited personnel and financial resources, yet with a huge workload. All our efforts go into providing our services, especially counselling, to our members and further persons in distress. The main work of DIGNITAS – even though this part of our work is hardly recognised – is suicide preventive work in a broad sense: Every day, people contact us to ask for advice. Some just need someone to talk to, others need advice in patient’s rights issues, some are stricken by a terminal illness at a very advanced stage and need to be directed towards a clinic with a palliative ward, and some are even medical doctors who inquire how they may help their patients (!). The majority of these people are not even members – yet receive advice from us as far as possible.

DIGNITAS’ aim – also hardly recognized – is not that people from all over the world travel to Switzerland, but rather that other countries adapt their legal system to implement end-of-life-regulations so that citizens have a real choice and do not need to become a “suicide tourist” (which is a horrible word anyway). It might sound utopian, but in fact the far goal of DIGNITAS is, that DIGNITAS one day does not exist anymore – because people can have their will at home and don’t need an association like DIGNITAS.

If you want to contribute something sensible to the debate, we would suggest that you follow up on questions like:
* Why is it that the UK government and legal system (like so many other countries) ignore peoples’ right to end their life self-determinedly in a safe and dignified manner at their very homes and forces them to travel abroad instead? Is such an approach dignified?
* Why is it that the UK government and legal system threatens to punish those who compassionately help their loved ones to a self-determined end in life, thus, so to say forcing them to leave the suffering ones in their distress? 
* is it more dignified to force people to jump of bridges and in front of trains instead of giving them the option of a risk-free, painless self-determined end in life accompanied by their close ones?
* Why is it that suicide preventive work and above all suicide-attempt preventive work finds little governmental (and financial!) attention? Take a look at the attached graph/chart: do you see where the real problem in our society is?
There are plenty of more interesting questions which one could raise…

A hint: read the DIGNITAS’ submission to the Commission on Assisted Dying, available from our website http://www.dignitas.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60&Itemid=104&lang=en it summarises much of our approach. Also, the Commission’s final report is now available. The header of the in-depth report speaks for itself: “The current legal status of assisted dying is inadequate, incoherent….”
There is further development now, being that a Scottish Parliament member has now lodged a proposal for a law to allow accompanied suicide, see:http://www.dignitas.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=26&Itemid=6&lang=en 

Being that we are just a small organisation, we unfortunately do not have the time to answer individual questions, However, all information available from Dignitas is accessible on our website www.dignitas.ch

Wishing you good luck on your presentation and your studies, and above all: good health we remain,
Yours sincerely
Silvan Luley

Dignity in Dying UK

Jo Cartwright as a representative replied to my emails:

What are your society’s views on euthanasia?
Dignity in Dying does not campaign to legalise euthanasia – we are campaigning for terminally ill, mentally competent people in the UK to have the choice of an assisted death if there suffering becomes unbearable, this is assisted dying.  Some people would lie the law to support non-terminally ill people to have this choice, which is assisted suicide, but we do not campaign for assisted suicide.

Under what circumstances, if you agree, should Euthanasia be legalised in the UK?
We believe that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should have the choice to as their doctor for a prescription of life ending medication, within strict safeguards, that they can decide to take if and when their suffering becomes unbearable for them.

Do you feel that Euthanasia should be restricted to people with degenerative diseases?
We believed assisted dying should be restricted to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

Do you get a lot of concerns from relatives?
No.

Do you find that relatives are generally supportive of those who wish to die?
My evidence is anecdotal, but on the whole when a relative has witnessed the suffering of a loved one who is dying and wants to limit their suffering, they are supportive.

Do you feel that relatives should have a say in the decision?
We would hope the dying patient had the support of loved ones, but ultimately it should be the patient making this decision for themselves.

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