Join us for our #healthchat: Death and dying – who should you talk to about the subject?

Lesley Boylan reveals what most people say before dying. Join us on 10 August as we continue to discuss death and dying – have your say

Every day Lesley Boylan packs her bag and leaves for work at the Southern Sydney Hospice on the New South Wales far south coast. She is the lead nurse in the care of patients on life support. She is responsible for looking after what is known as the “shackles” – patients on life support – who need around-the-clock care and attention.

Not many people visit the “shackles”. “Half the patients don’t make it and that’s OK because they were lucky enough to have a terminal illness. We’re going to get someone in and get them into a comfortable position,” she says. “You’re not going to work with someone who has no awareness of you in the hallway.”

Are the comfort chairs my grave? Read more

Boylan’s year would be a lot more interesting if she spent it caring for patients – waiting for them to die – but rather than that, she spends the day with a small group of people who have been chosen by the palliative care team, “unable to cope with their homes, unable to cope with their illness”.

Boylan explains how the palliative care team assess patients and work with them towards their end of life and this exploration was prompted by questions from members of our readership. We want to hear from you about death and dying and how your experiences relate to the issues raised by readers.

Join us on 10 August for our Q&A from 1pm-3pm GMT, or from 2pm-3pm BST. To make sure your questions are put to a panellist, please tweet us on @GuardianHealth, tweet using the hashtag #healthchat and we’ll include your views on our #healthchat post.

We’re also calling for information – what do you wish to discuss – so please get in touch if you would like to be included.

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We have many archived transcripts and recordings of interviews with experts in death and dying. To see all the posts on this topic, head to our healthcare archives.

Looking for an expert?

“I would be interested in talking to someone in death and dying because I think it’s really important to have someone in that space to give some reassurance,” says Simon Fishell, a former psychiatrist and director of nursing at the Lifelong Group for Living Well at Home.

First, he would like to find out more about that person’s experience, what their understanding of death is and why they think death is good and very often beneficial.

“I don’t think there’s a good enough understanding that most people only go one way. Almost all of us can come out,” says Fishell. “We might be in such a state of denial about death that our body does go one way and our mind does go the other. And we may not be seeing the person as the value that we would like, we may be seeing it as something destructive.”

He says that researching this area would be fascinating and he’d like to get in touch with “someone who’s really engaged in it”.

Hear more from Simon Fishell here.

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