The theme for this year’s National Palliative Care Week (19-25 May) is ‘What matters most?’
It’s a prompt for all Australians – of any age – to plan ahead for their end-of-life care and to discuss it with their loved ones and health professionals. Bringing the Dying to Talk initiative to the fore, National Palliative Care Week emphasises that talking about death might be difficult, but ‘it won’t kill you’.
According to the Department of Health, while 82% of Australians feel that talking about their death and dying wishes is important, almost half of us (43%) haven’t actually raised the conversation.
In this, National Palliative Care Week, there’s no better time to start.
The Productivity Commission’s recent report into human services found between 80,000 and 140,000 of the 160,000 people who die each year in Australia could benefit from high-quality end-of-life care.
With demand for palliative care increasing, professionals and volunteers are needed more than ever to support patients and carers as they deal with dying, death and bereavement.
While it’s incumbent upon government to ensure that all Australians who would benefit from palliative care have access to quality services that meet their needs, however complex, there are things that you can do to take control of your own experience.
Thinking about your end-of-life wishes and communicating them to your loved ones isn’t something you only need to think about when you get bad news or reach a particular age – none of us know what lies ahead.
Taking that difficult first step empowers you to take control of your end of life care and ensure that family and care-givers understand the things you value most but, importantly, it also helps take the burden off loved ones who will be trying to do their best for you.
To ensure that you have a clear say in how you end your life, you must take the bull by the horns and have that tricky conversation. You might want to talk about:
- What do you want for your end-of-life care? And do your loved ones know what’s important to you?
- Who do you wish to make decisions about your end-of-life care if you’re no longer able to?
- When the time comes, where would you wish to receive care (home, hospice, hospital)?
- Who would you want to be with you when you die?
- Any cultural, emotional or spiritual support that you would wish to have in place?
The Dying to Talk discussion tool is a great way to get started.
Take time to reflect on what’s important to you, then share your wishes with those who need to hear them.