In Palliative Care Week 2017, Resthaven CEO, Richard Hearn, shares his thoughts.
‘We don’t like to think about death, even though it is inevitable,’ says Richard.
‘Palliative care supports people who are suffering pain or other symptoms of acute or chronic conditions that cannot be cured, and when the person and their family need support and understanding.’
‘The aim is to enable people to have a ‘good death’, managed well, with dignity, privacy, and understanding of what can be expected, retaining control, with pain relief and symptom control.’
‘Specialist palliative care can be accessed in hospital, in the community and in aged care homes, with support from the health care team, such as expert nurses and allied health practitioners.’
‘Aged care providers play an important role in caring for older people and their family members at this time.’
‘Sometimes, specialist support is needed when there are complex physical or psychosocial problems. Resthaven was the first Australian aged care provider to employ a specialist palliative care nurse practitioner, Peter Jenkin, to provide direct clinical care, as well as to educate and build capacity in all levels of staff.’
Peter says, ‘A death rarely happens in isolation. Family and significant others are affected as a person approaches death. Supporting them along the way with information allows them to prepare for their loss and can reduce the chance of a ‘complicated’ grieving process.’
‘Just as it is important to meet a person’s physical needs, their spiritual needs also need to be met. This may be religious, or it can simply reflect the need for an opportunity to explore existential questions and concerns at this time. In aged care, these conversations can just as commonly occur with care-workers and nurses as with chaplains, such is the connection often made over months and sometimes years of caring.’
‘Talking about these things doesn’t mean you’re tempting fate.’
‘Ultimately, I think we all would prefer to retain control over who is present, to say goodbye and ensure our wishes are respected and not to have life prolonged pointlessly.’
- Visit www.advancecaredirectives.sa.gov.au for information about Advance Care Directives
- Click here to learn more about Palliative Care Week 2017