The Last Ward
A short film about end of life care during Covid-19
“Now is the time for an urgent, honest conversation about death and dying”
Death deserves to be about more than data. With daily news coverage saturated with Covid-19 figures from emergency wards and ICUs, we wanted to draw out human stories to make sense of the statistics and prompt a broad conversation around death – not just preventing death, but managing death with dignity during a time of unprecedented pressure and restrictions. Those working in palliative care units come face to face with death day-in-day-out. We brought together a group of doctors to open up an honest discussion on death and dying, during and beyond Covid-19.
The Last Ward is a candid short documentary produced during lockdown that combines recorded Zoom calls and audio diaries with animation and socially distanced filming. Produced for the BBC, it focuses on the work of five doctors delivering end of life care around the country. The idea for this project came from a palliative care doctor who reached out to us in the first harrowing weeks of the pandemic. She saw an opportunity to tell a story that goes beyond the statistics to hear from the doctors who were supporting people through their final moments in these unprecedented times.
The film was the most viewed video on the BBC News site on the day of publication
It was broadcast three times on BBC News bulletins and viewed by over a million people across online and social media platforms
Marie Curie, Hospice UK and Dying Matters – leading organisations in the field of end of life care – all shared the video with their communities
One viewer said:
“The film has helped me to frame feelings that I struggle to put into words”