20 Feb Conversations: Creating Choice in End of Life Care
Link to full report: Conversations – Choice in End of Life Care – ACHR 2016
The way people are cared for when they are dying is important. End of Life Care impacts everyone, at every age – the living, the dying and the bereaved. It is not a response to a particular illness or condition. It is not limited to a particular group or section of the community.
When it comes to death the statistics are clear.
We will all die.
We assume that we will always have control of our care decisions. However, many people nearing the end of life are not physically or cognitively able to make their own care decisions, and their choices and wishes remain unknown. This means too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.
End of Life Care has a low profile in Australia. It is not recognised as a public health concern, and we lack the national awareness and engagement programs evident in other countries. Our impressive global record of health promotion and public education is not being matched in the process of dying, death or bereavement.
Unless we take personal, professional, and political action, we will not be able to afford to die with dignity in the future. For multiple reasons that include an ageing population, escalating healthcare spending, and an approach to End of Life Care that often does not conform to the wishes of patients, we cannot delay action.
It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves and our loved ones.
1. Currently, too many Australians experience pain and suffering in the final months and days of their lives, and die in a way they would not choose. These outcomes ripple out beyond the dying person to their families, loved ones, caregivers, and communities.
2. As a nation we are paying a high price for care we don’t want, in a place we don’t want it.
3. Caring for the dying is a fundamental responsibility of all societies and good stewardship of national resources requires an evidence-based approach to meet the ever-increasing and insupportable demands on hospital facilities, health professionals and ineffective resource utilisation.
The pathway to reform starts with one simple step – conversation.
Conversations increase public awareness that End of Life Care can be guided in ways that responded to patients’ choice. When it comes to End of Life Care, one conversation can make all the difference.
Road Map for Action
We present eight simple, cost effective recommendations to transform End of Life Care in Australia by creating choice through conversations.