In addition to considerations about person-centred care, steps to provide a caring environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receiving palliative care are needed.
As a matter of principle, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person should be treated as an individual with individual needs, and not stereotyped. Remember that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not the same and what may be appropriate for one may not be appropriate or relevant for another. [9,11]
Every case is different. We’re very flexible. We go by what the family wants, and gently try to find the right time to talk – like, 'as Mum gets weaker, where would you like her to go?' or 'in the event she had a heart attack, do you want the ambulance to come, or are you happy for the nurses to come and give some pain relief?' Talking about what might happen is important because when the time comes, it is important that the family isn’t fighting and everyone has agreed about what to do.
Registered Nurse with an Aboriginal Health Service, Helen Leamy’s story
Source: Kate Sullivan and Associates Pty Ltd on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Palliative Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (618kb pdf). Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Commonwealth of Australia; 2004. Page 20.
Both patients and staff spoke about the importance of trying to meet specific cultural and individual needs of patients, such as same-gender health carers for intimate care and working closely with patients, their families and communities in relation to death and dying.
Clinical Services Coordinator recalls interviews with health staff and patients.
Source: Kelly J, Herman K, Martin G, Wilden C, East T, Russell C, et al. Managing two worlds together: Stage 3: Improving Aboriginal patient journeys - Renal case studies (2.98MB pdf). Melbourne: Lowitja Institute and Flinders University; 2015. Page 5.
There are some simple strategies that health services can implement quickly in order to enhance the physical environment to make it feel more culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families. [1,8] These include:
Last updated 19 August 2021