A conversation stopper

Mention palliative care and it kills a conversation. The subject is changed, there is a gasp, pause or the person moves away. Alternatively some proceed to share experiences of unexpected deaths and dealings with services or become vocal on the topic of euthanasia. People equate palliative care with imminent death. It is seen only as terminal care. Palliative care is far broader than that. It is about living until you die, taking a holistic approach, not only to the person but to those who support them (spouse/partner, family and other carers).

Our regional demographics show an ageing population with a lot of chronic health problems. There will be  greater emphasis on caring for people within the home environment, with services coming in & out and the need to be able to manage between scheduled visits. It is well documented that the preferred place for care & death is at home rather than hospital.

On many levels, as a community we are afraid to engage in conversations about death. Care in the community needs to be supported with community confidence in knowing what death looks like and how to care for each other. Death is not quite as it is portrayed in TV dramas. There are several informative on-line sites which provide insight into palliative care & death. One is  Life before death, where there are over 55 short films from around the world reflecting the diversity of palliative care. A longer program is the BBC series episode on the Human Body  called End of Life (49 minutes).

As a community, we could try to more openly share discussions. Supporting each other builds community confidence and reminds us that death is part of life. Taxes & death are facts of life.

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