OF the 160,000 Australian deaths recorded each year, more than 60 percent (100,000) are predictable, and can therefore, be planned for. Yet concerningly, less than one in six Australians (15 percent) have care plans in place for the last stage of life, and while 70 percent of Australian’s prefer to die at home, or in a home-like setting, currently less than 14 percent are doing so.
“Australians on the whole, don’t talk openly about death and dying. The topic makes people uncomfortable,” said Professor Ken Hillman of The Violet Initiative Clinical Committee.
“Currently, death and dying is highly medicalised. Often, the preferences of the person in the latter stages of life are not acknowledged. Their priorities usually include a desire for personal care, safety, assurance, company, preservation of dignity, and a peaceful, pain-free death.
Instead, health professionals focus on their own priorities, which are active medical management and attempting to cure.”
Social entrepreneur and Violet CEO, Ms Melissa Reader, maintains caregivers are often the key influencers and decision makers, those able to drive critical conversations, and advocate for a plan that marries their loved one’s desires, with the reality of their situation.
“Often caregivers and family members of those in the last stage of life feel uncertain, unprepared,” Ms Reader said.
“A “good” last stage of life would involve many more Australians having more compassionate and dignified deaths, with their preferences aligned with their experiences. Families and their caregivers would be offered relief, feel more resilient while going through this difficult experience, and in turn, would be able to return to life and work more fully.”
If you are caring for someone in the last stage of life, or wish to learn more about The Violet Initiative and its service offering, head to www.violet.org.au