Your Questions answered
What is Omega?
The Omega Course provides a safe space where participants can talk freely about death and dying in a friendly and accepting atmosphere. It is organised as a 5 session course (4 evenings and a full day), covering end of life matters which affect everybody. The Omega Course was written for the local community extending over 4 weeks. It is discussion based and interactive and is designed to be useful for the lay public and professionals alike.
What does it do?
The Omega Course creates a safe space within the community where compassionate discussion of matters relating to death and dying are discussed. During the course we offer a set of skills which will increase confidence when talking about these matters.
The content will cover hopes and expectations of life yet to be lived; preparations and planning for the future; how to talk to people who are sick or bereaved; as well as topics raised by participants. The informal format will help open discussion.
What are the benefits?
Benefits of attendance include:
· Ability to talk more freely about a taboo subject
· Information and ideas about planning for the future
· Increased confidence in talking to ill or bereaved friends and neighbours
· Decreased fear of the unknown
Origins of Omega
It is widely recognised by National and Local Government and by professional bodies that the demand for sensitive end of life care is outstripping supply by publicly funded initiatives. As Baby Boomers enter old age, succeeding generations are less able to look after them, either directly, or through public funding. This was formally recognised in 2015 in the policy document ‘Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care’  which engaged with the vision in the ‘Dying Well Community Charter’ . The message is that efforts should be made to increase skill levels of lay people within each community such that each community is ready to care for its own. The Omega Course was created in the town of Kenilworth, Warwickshire to do this.
Who is responsible for Omega?
The Omega Course is administered and run by Trustees of The Omega Course Charity Board. It is registered with the Charity commission No. 1183642. The course creators, Chantal Meystre, a palliative medicine consultant and Colin Briffa, coach and recently retired Probation Officer are directors of the charity and facilitate and deliver courses.
Who can take part?
The Omega Course is designed to be accessible to anyone over 18 with mental capacity. It was designed especially those of us the lay population but is equally appropriate to health and social care staff as the shorter OmegaPro course. People in those professions have taken part and value it. Our age range so far is 22-94 years. At this stage we have not adapted the course for use with children, for whom we work with parents, or the learning disabled.
What is the religious standpoint of The Omega Course?
End of Life, Dying and Death is experienced by all whatever their religious persuasion. So from the outset we took a deliberate decision not to include any religious philosophy of the afterlife in the material we present. Participants may hold strong views; we ask participants to express them respectfully if the occasion arises. We discourage proselytising.
When and where does Omega run?
We started by running courses 3 times a year, in March, June and September, in Kenilworth. Our online package and extension in person to Leyland, Lancashire will extend the geographical scope. The intention ultimately is to deliver the Omega Course in such a way that, with appropriate training, others will be able to run the course in their own localities as well as online.
There is a charge for the whole course, depending on the menu used. Where grants have been obtained we have been able to offer Omega free of charge. If the charge is a problem some help may be available. Up to date charges can be seen on the booking page when available.
As participants complete a course they are invited to continue links through local informal Omega neighbourhood communities, which are able to offer support into the future.
What people have said:
“I thought it would be quite morbid, but has been surprising that we laughed a lot.”
“I can see, even though I am not sure what to say, that it is better to say something than not to talk to them.”
“Challenging but well worth spending the time confronting the inevitable in order to become better prepared.”
“The Omega Course is a must for anyone that will die.”
We have confidence in the efficacy of the course:
· Each participant completes a ‘Before and After’ self-assessment evaluation and qualitative comments. These are really encouraging and uniformly favourable
· In 2018 two Warwick University Medical Students undertook a research evaluation of The Omega Course outcomes. The research was independent and ethically scrutinised by the Biomedical & Scientific Research Ethics Committee (BSREC) of the University. Using a Qualtrics survey both qualitative and quantitative responses were analysed. The results can be seen in two of the poster presentations in the resources section of the website. They indicate a very positive response and that The Omega Course meets its objectives and changes the abilities and forward planning of the participants.