Compassionate Communities West Sussex

In West Sussex, we are developing a ‘Compassionate Communities’ approach to supporting people through death, dying, bereavement and loss.

A network of health and care organisations, including community and voluntary sector organisations, have come together to take action as part of ‘Compassionate Communities West Sussex’.  We have asked people in our communities what a compassionate community means to them, and developed our vision to reflect what people told us.

Our vision

West Sussex is a place where people living with illness and dealing with death, dying, bereavement and loss feel supported by their friends, family, neighbours and the people they interact with in everyday life in emotional and practical ways. 

The places where people spend time – libraries, cafes, places of worship, shops, clubs, workplaces, schools, and virtual spaces – are safe, compassionate spaces where people feel included and where they find comfort and reassurance at difficult times. 

People of all ages who are experiencing crisis and loss feel connected and valued, and they know that others in their community are looking out for them - willing and able to listen and to provide practical help.

Compassionate communities in action

Compassion and kindness have been more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen so many examples of people’s capacity to be there for their friends, family, neighbours and others in their community over the last year – Compassionate Communities in action across West Sussex.

Selsey Community Forum are just one great example of this.  Their 'Selsey Covid-19 Mutual Aid' community project involved partners from across the town, and led the local response to meeting the needs of local people and promoting their health and wellbeing during lockdown.  Their activities included having a buddy on every street, support from neighbours, providing nutritious meals to people who were shielding, setting up a lending hub for home entertainment and many other support activities. See the Selsey Community Forum website for more details.

In May 2021 Compassionate Communities West Sussex supported Dying Matters Awareness Week which encourages people to have more open conversations about death, dying and bereavement. Our partners led activities to support the campaign:

  • Citizens Advice in West Sussex hosted a webinar with West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group and West Sussex County Council Libraries on practical tips and resources to help when someone dies. See the video of the webinar on YouTube
  • West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (West Sussex CCG) launched their ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) resources.  ReSPECT is a process which creates a personalised recommendation for someone’s clinical care in emergency situations where they are not able to make decisions or express their wishes. See the West Sussex CCG website.
  • Other partners including local hospices St Wilfrid’s, St Barnabas House, St Catherine’s and St Peter and St James, promoted a short BBC film ‘Should everyone have an end of life plan?’ which talks about the benefits of thinking ahead to the kind of death you might want.  The film is part of a collection of videos 'Reflections on Dying' which look at how we approach and come to terms with dying, death and grief. See the BBC website.
  • Dementia Support published a blog on their website called Dying Matters, Planning for a Good Death - Part Two about the importance of having conversations before someone dies with some tips for how to approach having a conversation about the end of life, including how asking simple questions about their likes and dislikes, preferences for music, or poems they might like to have read at their funeral, can help.