Why the course started
The Omega Course arose from conversations between Chantal Meystre, a palliative medicine consultant in the NHS, and Colin Briffa who at the time worked in the probation service delivering coaching type interventions to people sentenced within the Criminal Justice System.
Through her work Chantal is aware that as a Nation we are rapidly reaching a time when every hospital bed in the NHS could be taken up looking after people toward the end of their lives. Even though there may be no further treatment available or desired they often cannot be discharged from hospital because there is no-one at home to give even modest care. With simple home care from neighbourhood visitors people could be at home.
So Chantal and Colin decided to set up a short course to do two things:
1. Encourage participants to make proper arrangements for their own end of life wishes
2. Help people feel confident and enjoy the time they have left
3. Give them skills which would enable them to offer assistance to others
The Classic Scenario
This is the challenging situation that The Omega Course is designed to resolve:
You are walking down the street and in the distance you see someone you know coming towards you. They haven’t seen you.
You know that they have been given a terminal diagnosis, but have not seen them since you found out.
What do you do?
- Cross the street
- Dive into a coffee shop hoping they don’t see you
- Come face to face with them and invite a conversation?
If you choose to talk to them how would you start?
Participants who complete The Omega Course are part of a group of people who have spent significant time thinking about their own end of life wishes and also how they might help others do the same.
They are in a unique position. Of course communities are not created, rather, they grow. By bringing such people together on social occasions, and to help in volunteering in a variety of capacities a sense of community will develop.
The longer term vision of The Omega Course is to be part of the wish expressed in a key document, published by the National Palliative and End of Life Care Partnership in 2015: Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care.
I live in a community where everybody recognises that we all have a role
to play in supporting each other in times of crisis and loss. People are
ready, willing and confident to have conversations about living and dying
well and to support each other in emotional and practical ways.