We want to encourage people to talk about death and dying, and ensure that medical policy develops in line with people's views.Public Dialogue
The Departure Lounge
The Departure Lounge aims to encourage a national conversation about death & dying.
Following its launch as a free pop-up shop in south London, and a programme of events across the UK, The Departure Lounge is now an interactive website and digital campaign. Visit www.departure-lounge.org to explore #thedeparturelounge
The original pop-up shop was open for a month in May-June 2019 in Lewisham Shopping Centre, south London, and was free and open to all. Modelled on an airport departure lounge, the installation encouraged people to talk about death, dying and what it means to have a good death. The installation was staffed by a diverse mix of researchers, doctors and hospice workers with experience of death and dying. Lewisham was chosen to be the starting point for The Departure Lounge as a busy, diverse area which is also the birthplace of the hospice movement. The original installation dates were chosen to coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week (13-19 May 2019).
The Departure Lounge was developed by the Academy of Medical Sciences with design agency The Liminal Space.
Explore online at www.departure-lounge.org
In 2019, we created flat pack versions of The Departure Lounge to give to people across the UK.
These flat packs were given to people interested in sparking conversations about death and dying across the UK. They contained materials and resources to prompt discussion and thought around the end of life, and what it means to die well, based off the original Lewisham installation. We hope that people will use and re-use the flat packs to host their own events on death and dying.
Applications for the flat packs are now closed. Details for where around the country the flat packs are hosted is available at: https://www.departure-lounge.org/about/. If you have any further questions regarding the flat packs, please contact Holly Rogers.
You can learn more about The Departure Lounge in:
- BBC - London News 9 May 2019
- The Times - Pop-up shop seeks to challenge taboos about popping off
- The Guardian – Campaign aims to get people to better prepare for death
- The Observer – Welcome to the Departure Lounge. Destination: death
- TimeOut - This pop-up shop in Lewisham is getting us to talk about death and dying.
- VICE – Scientists Want to Inspire Public Conversations About Death
- BBC Radio London - Jo Good with Dr Nicola White
- Huffington Post – Mum With Incurable Breast Cancer Wants To Be Made Into A Firework For Funeral
- The Voice – What Does It Mean To Have A ‘Good Death’?
- Lewisham Local – We need to talk about dying…
- All in London – The Departure Lounge
- Deccan Chronicle (India) – Talking about the last taboo: Death
- Yahoo! News: Live Science - What Happens in the Hours Before Death? Most People Don’t Have a Clue.
We have also been talking to the researchers we work with about their insights into death and dying:
"Our research shows that half of all people with dementia will attend an emergency department in their last month of life. And yet we know that hospitalisation of people with dementia can lead to physical and cognitive decline. So, how can we prevent some of these avoidable hospital attendances?" - Dr Katherine Sleeman. Read more
"My work involves analysing the health records of more than a million patients to find out exactly what’s behind health inequalities, and why those from ethnic minorities are doubly disadvantaged, with the care and treatment they receive likely to be even worse." - Dr Jayati Das-Munshi. Read more
"My passion stemmed from watching a very close friend die from the side effects of her leukaemia treatment. I realised that if we didn’t measure systematically the harms as well as the benefits of treatment, then we were not serving our patients well." - Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield FMedSci. Read more
We seek to ensure that research and policy around end of life care, death and dying reflects what people consider to be important.
In 2019, we carried out a programme of policy workshops and public dialogue focusing on death and dying.
1. Initial policy workshop
The Academy convened a workshop on 12 February 2019 to discuss the policy issues associated with end of life and palliative care, bringing together stakeholders from a range of backgrounds, spanning the health and care sectors, patient groups, and faith experts, amongst others. The meeting was chaired by Professor Irene Higginson OBE FMedSci, Professor of Palliative Care; Director of Cicely Saunders Institute, King’s College London, and aimed to identify potential areas that might lead to future policy activity by the Academy and others.
- Dr Sabine Best, Head of Research, Marie Curie
- Professor Kay-Tee Khaw CBE FMedSci, Emeritus Professor, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge
- Dr Kathryn Mannix, Palliative care doctor and author
- Dr Katherine Sleeman, NIHR Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant in palliative medicine, King’s College London
- Dr Mehrunisha Suleman, Research Associate, Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge
- Professor Bee Wee, Director for End of Life Care, NHS England
2. Public dialogue
During The Departure Lounge installation in Lewisham, the Academy, in partnership with Ipsos MORI, undertook a programme of public engagement work around quality of life and how comfortable people feel talking about death. Information was gathered through a series of workshops with selected members of the public, together with qualitative visitor interviews, to capture public views on death, dying, end of life care and the role of research in this area. A full report of the findings and recommendations is available here.
3. End of life and palliative care policy catalysis workshop
To consider the outcomes of the public dialogue work, along with the key themes which emerged from the earlier context setting workshop, the Academy convened a policy catalysis workshop on 30 January 2020, with the aim of defining next steps for the sector. Stakeholders came together across policy, academia, the NHS, and patient and public involvement, among others, to define the key policy gaps and immediate priorities for end of life and palliative care, identify potential deliverable solutions, and discuss opportunities to catalyse policy activity in future. A summary report of the workshop, co-Chaired by Professor Dame Jessica Corner DBE FMedSci and Professor Irene Higginson OBE FMedSci, can be found here.
The Academy is also grateful for a core grant from the Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy that was also used to support this project.
The content has been developed with expert advice from:
- Professor Dame Jessica Corner FMedSci, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, University of Nottingham
- Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield FMedSci, Director of Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer and Professor of Psycho Oncology, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
- Baroness Finlay of Llandaff FMedSci FLSW, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University, and Vice President, Hospice UK
- Professor Keith Hawton FMedSci, Professor of Psychiatry, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director, Centre for Suicide Research, Oxford University
- Professor Irene Higginson OBE FMedSci, Professor of Palliative Care & Director of Cicely Saunders Institute, King's College London
- Professor Diana Kuh FMedSci, Professor of Life Course Epidemiology and Director, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, University College London
- Professor Karen Luker CBE FMedSci, QNI Professor of Community Nursing, University of Manchester
- Dr Amara Nwosu, Academic Clinical Lecturer in Palliative Medicine, Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool
- Mr Toby Scott, Head of Communications and Campaigns, Dying Matters
- Dr Katherine Sleeman, NIHR Clinician Scientist, King's College London
- Dr Maria-Paulina Socarras, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Human Tissue Authority
- Ms Eve Wilson, Bereavement Supporter Project Manager, Cruse Bereavement Care
We would also like to thank the many individuals and organisations who have helped develop content and provided access to their stories, particularly St Christopher’s Hospice, Dying Matters, Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, HealthTalk, Hospice UK, Sue Ryder and Compassion in Dying.
Director of Communications
Tel: 020 3141 3202View staff bio