Let's get talking.....
on a bench
Why should we ask: ‘What matters to me?'
We all have different ideas about what is important to us. When our wishes are heard and respected, it means we can live better until the very end of life. Having meaningful conversations around what matters to us is essential throughout life. It can also make the difference between a peaceful, meaningful ending and a confusing, frightening one.
'What matters' conversations can also make the difference between family and friends feeling satisfied they did everything they could for their loved one, and the uncertainty and guilt of not knowing if they got it right.
.....about what matters to me
What kind of things should we be learning about each other from these conversations?
around a table
Through a window
Unlike advance care planning (ACP) conversations, talking about what matters to you is more about overall wellbeing than medical matters – what will help you feel that life is enjoyable and worthwhile? These are normal everyday conversations. From such conversations we may learn unexpected things about each other like:
What makes us happy, feel calm, content and peaceful?
Our hopes? This could include finding a partner, career, travelling or an unusual interest.
What would matter most if we had limited time, for example being with family, engaging in a particular hobby, or living in a particular place?
Who we’d want to be caring for us, and what kind of care we’d be comfortable receiving from them?.
What people and objects would we like to have around us?
Favourite tastes, smells or sensations that might be important to us at our end?
What happens when we don’t ask what matters?
As the coronavirus pandemic has shown us so brutally, if we don't tell those close to us what matters when things are fine, the moment may be lost. People can end up being somewhere they don’t want to be and without the people and things around that are important.
How to start a ‘What matters’ conversation
On a ZOOM call
‘What matters’ conversations between friends and family are usually social chats taking place at home, out on a walk, in the pub or on the bus. They’re conversations that can be picked up and put down again as our life changes.
'What matter' converversations can also focus on health and social care, and may occur between people and their GP, nurse, social worker or hospital specialist.
Even when we know something needs to happen, the hardest bit can be where and how to start. This is touched on in our second film. You can find support and inspiration – including stories, tips and opinions – to help you start conversations about what matters to you on Marie Curie’s Talkabout website.
In an interview
How do these conversations work alongside advance care planning conversations?
Advance care planning (ACP) has a health and social care focus, for example: sharing what treatments we’d accept or refuse, where we’d like to live if we become unable to live at home, or where we’d wish to be cared for at the very end of life.
Because most of us don’t volunteer for these conversations with our medical advisers while we’re well, ACP conversations often take place hurriedly when it is almost too late. Sadly, this was recently the experience in some nursing homes.
We’d encourage these conversations – ACP and ‘What matters?’ – to be intertwined. ‘What matters to you?’ conversations are a great help when it’s time to think about ACP. By being clear about the things that matter most to us, it’s far easier to wrap future health care around those priorities.