Today we meet the politicians to talk end of life care

Today we head to Parliament House to meet the pollies. Back in the 90’s I did this, but as a student unionist with an axe to grind! This purpose is very different.

We’re inviting our representatives help change how we do end of life care.

Palliative care does amazing work in this country.

“I work in palliative care what’s your superpower?

But superheros still need help from others so they can do their job. Think of those amazing ambos in Melbourne who even put out a video message to say thank you to their community.

Most of us die in hospital. (The most expensive part of the health system) The money saved by reducing admissions could be put into community-based care initiatives. It takes about 16 people to support someone to die well at home. That includes the primary family members, close social group, broader community members and medical care.

If you were asked to pop over to help with the gardening on a Saturday morning for someone you knew who was dying at home, I’m sure you would feel honoured to be asked and you’d be over in a jiffy.

What an amazing opportunity for human beings to re-connect around something so important as death.

I worry sometimes that the Compassionate Communities movement needs a new name, where is ‘death and dying’ in there? But no, it doesn’t. Being a part of caring for someone at the end of life is a wellspring from where all forms of compassion thrive.

100 years ago we outsourced death and dying to professionals. Now most of us have grown up having rarely being exposed to this part of life because it’s simply been removed. Dying at home is one way to reestablish our relationship with life and death. We also need health service policies and health professional practices that support families and their networks to feel a deep sense of agency and ownership over the way they care.

Given we are poorly prepared for the end of life, death feels sudden and traumatic. In reality, the majority of people die from an expected illness meaning that we do have more time than we realise to be prepared for death. These are the social and cultural norms that need transforming over the next 20 years as our aging population doubles.

Today we invite our members of parliament to paint themselves in the picture of what a localised compassionate community could look in their jurisdiction. Caring at end of life is everyone’s business. Our schools, our workplaces are a good place to start.

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Listen to Jessie's interview on ABC Breakfast radio HERE - (scroll forward to the 2 hour mark)

Kerrie NoonanComment