Connecting local responses around the world
This is the story of John. He died recently in a village in what I think is the most beautiful part of my country, England. During his long life, John lived and worked in many places, but he died 5 miles away from where he was born. He was 85 years old when he died.
John was a quiet, even shy man. But he had a wide range of interests. He had a deep love of music. He could make and repair almost anything. And above all, he was truly alive when he was deep in the mountains, in particular the mountains shown in the picture.
When he retired, he designed and built a house with a spectacular view of his beloved mountains. He made it clear that when the time came, he wanted to die within sight of these mountains.
John had a long and happy retirement. But when he was 84, he found that he had cancer and it was clear that he did not have long to live.
Then something magical happened. A whole host of friends and family arranged in an entirely natural way so that John and his wife had all the help and support that they needed. It was never intrusive. But it was always there and it was always available.
In addition to this unobtrusive network of friends and family, the medical profession provided a remarkably co-ordinated system of support. Nurses would visit up to 4 times a day to make sure that John and his wife had everything they needed. When the situation became a difficult, a nurse would stay all night to make sure that John was comfortable and it is wife could get some rest. The medical services did many more things with all this was done without a single piece of paper to sign or a penny to pay.
John died peacefully in his house and the mountains were right there outside his window.
I have thought about these events a lot and have learned many things from them. But here is one idea that I would like to share with you. Here we had an informal community that worked to ensure that a human being died in peace and dignity in his own home. That community was made up of experts, friends, ‘experts who became friends’ and ‘friends who were experts’ who made that happen without formality or fuss. That is a powerful combination of talents and all of them can contribute to Community Life Competence.