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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
Health care professionals agree that the quality of care provided in the emergency department for dying patients and their families is often not as good as it needs to be. Dr Tracy Giles of Flinders University explains how her research into the experiences of family members will help to identify what is working well already and areas of care that need improvement, and how you can become involved.
The pattern of disease, dying and death has changed dramatically in Australia over the last century. In Australia alone almost 160,000 people die every year. Of these at least 120,000 are expected deaths, meaning that access to palliative care could be of great benefit to both the individuals and their families. But ensuring access to quality palliative care for all who need it is not without its challenges. This is why a group of researchers sought funding from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for the Centre of Research Excellence in End-of-Life Care (CRE-ELC).
In spring each year, postgraduate students from all around Australia leave family and work responsibilities to spend 2 intensive days at Flinders University in Adelaide. These professionals come to interact with peers and facilitators to learn more about communication at the end of life, the topic covered as core in all of our courses.
Communication, the cornerstone of excellent end-of-life care, is that delicate skill that can flourish in the fertile environment of mindful practice and supportive critique.
The aim of modern palliative care, whether provided by generalist, or specialist service providers, is to support palliative patients to live and die within the context of their lives, in the setting of their choice, with symptom control and a pattern of care that is supportive of patients’ caregivers.
Most Australian palliative care patients prefer to be cared for at home and the majority want to die at home, though only about 16% of Australians achieve that wish . While there is no nationally consistent data on the volume of community services providing palliative care, it is known to be limited .
August 8th is Dying to Know Day – a campaign that encourages people across the country to engage in meaningful conversation around death, dying and loss by hosting events in their local area. This is its 5th year running and it has clocked up over 403 individual events!
So why on earth should we talk about death?!
Many cultures around the world have a different approach to death. In many countries, people generally die at home surrounded by their community, it is an important time for a community to gather and support each other. Death is not a scary thing to talk about because people have seen the process over their lifetime, they are familiar with the rituals and traditions so they know exactly what to expect and how to respond.