ACCORDING TO a recent ABC report seven out of ten Australians die what might be called an ‘expected death’.
Yet until recently the focus of medicine, even for those in palliative care, has been to try to prolong life as long as possible, despite the unintended discomfort this may cause.
Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Bethesda Caring Centre at Corinda in Brisbane was part of a ground breaking study to change this and to allow people space and time for a “good death” – that is, a death that is dignified, pain free, and not in an impersonal hospital bed in unfamiliar surroundings.
Bethesda had such good results in implementing the end of life pathway that Wesley Mission Brisbane applied for and has been given a substantial grant to put into operation an End-of-life Care Pathway for those living with dementia in residential aged care and community services within both their aged care services.
The heart of the End-of-Life Care Pathway revolves around being able to recognise when a person has reached a palliative stage within their life journey and then making that life period as comfortable as possible for both themselves and their families.
Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Aged Care Director Peter Sydes said the Pathway sat well with their aged care philosophy.
“The End-of-Life Pathway is a natural fit for our services which are all about empowering people within their lives – no matter what stage of life that is,” he said. “Walking alongside people in the very last stages of their life journey, and providing them with the information they need to make informed decisions fits perfectly with both Wesley Mission Brisbane’s mission and with the Eden Philosophy which all of our aged care communities embrace.”
The outcome of the Bethesda study is the first Australian evidence that shows an end of life care pathway lowers the numbers of deaths in hospital and allows residents to die in their homes with loved ones and familiar staff caring for them.
With the help of the End-of-Life Care Pathway grant this pathway, which includes special education programs for staff, will be implemented throughout all Wesley Mission Brisbane aged care services, both within their residential communities and their community care programs.
Bethesda Director of Nursing Sandra Larkin said the Pathway enables people to make their own decisions about their end of life.
“Death is an integral part of life and the End-of-Life Pathway allows the elderly and their families dignity and peace.”
Photo : Photo courtesy of Wesley Mission Brisbane