• Matters of Life and Death

    Matters of Life and Death

    It’s National Palliative Care Week, 19 – 25 May 2024. This annual initiative aims to raise awareness about palliative care, increase understanding of its services, and recognise the skill, dedication and ‘heart’ of the palliative care workforce and volunteers.

    With good palliative care, those facing death and bereavement are supported to live, die, and grieve well, and to accept death as a natural part of life.

    Palliative care can be accessed in a range of settings including at home, in hospital, in a hospice or in a residential aged care home.

    Raising awareness about palliative care is important, because death and dying is a difficult subject that many of us find hard to talk about.

    This may also explain why there is often a misunderstanding around the term ‘palliative care’.

    Palliative care is high quality health care and support for people who are living with a life-limiting illness, which may be physical, emotional, spiritual and/or social. Palliative care also involves support for their families.

    From the time of diagnosis, conversations about palliative care can assist in planning holistic care. A person can receive palliative care at any stage of their life-limiting illness to treat symptoms and issues associated with it. It is not just about the end stages of life, nor is it just the domain of nurses and doctors. We are grateful for the dedication, passion and skill of the palliative care workforce, family carers, and volunteers.

    Making and having a plan about death and dying enables people to share their personal wishes with family and friends. This reduces the additional stress on them when difficult choices need to be made. An ‘Advance Care Directive’ is the written instructions of a person’s wishes when it comes to death and dying, and is used when the person is no longer capable of making their own decisions.

    An ‘Advance Care Directive’ is a legal form that empowers people to make decisions about their future health care based on their values, beliefs and matters that are most important to them.

    Having your future wishes known ensures that preferences are made clear and accessible to family and health care professionals, should a situation arise where you cannot communicate your needs. Be prepared! Visit www.advancecaredirectives.sa.gov.au for more information and to download an Advance Care Directive kit.

    If you would like more information, Resthaven is hosting free one-hour sessions throughout July about Advance Care Directives and Palliative Care, as part of the information sessions around ageing. Learn from Resthaven’s clinical educators, and other experts, with tickets available to all members of the community. Book in now to attend a session near you.

    Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck
    Chief Executive Officer
    Resthaven Incorporated