Families urged to have 'difficult conversations'

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Health experts have urged families to have "difficult conversations" now about their wishes should they become seriously unwell with coronavirus.

NHS Borders said many people still found it hard to have such discussions.

However, it said medics across the UK were advising people to talk to their loved ones about the issue.

Associate medical director Annabel Howell said it had "never been more important" to consider it.

"Hospital is often not the best place to be, and this is especially the case right now," she said. "You may simply want to stay at home.

"If you don't have these conversations and the worst does happen it would be terrible if your loved one suddenly became unwell and couldn't speak for themselves."

She said they wanted people to talk about their wishes "just in case" they became seriously ill.

Dr Lynn McCallum, clinical director for unscheduled care, said that the majority of patients with Covid-19 would have "mild to moderate symptoms" which could be managed from home.

However, she said it would be life-threatening for some - in particular the elderly or those with other "significant medical conditions".

"Given the numbers of people we are forecasting may require admission to hospital, for some people it may be that hospital is not the best place to look after them," she said.

Dr McCallum said they felt it was "incredibly important" for "frail elderly patients" to consider their wishes in the event of becoming critically unwell.

"The coronavirus crisis underlines the need to have these difficult conversations, that we often put off, to express what our wishes are and what is most important to us," she said.

She added that advice was available to help such discussions via the ReSPECT website.