“You matter, your care matters,” was the key message from his Excellency Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of Australia in declaring National Palliative Care Week 2017 open today. Palliverse was lucky enough to be in attendance for the event held on a stunning Canberra Autumn morning at Government House.
For as long as our culture has being making art death, dying, and exploring the meaning of our fragile mortal lives have been key themes. Historically the arts have framed our practices around preparing for dying, celebrating lives, and pondered the traverse into the unknown. Artists of antiquity often used their media to describe the care for the dying and the dead, reflecting a palliative focus of the arts which continues to this day.
At ANZSPM16 one topic up for discussion will be the palliative care and frailty in older people. If you are interested in knowing a bit more about this then read on.
A key theme of ANZSPM 2016 is providing palliative care for the older person. There is perhaps no greater change to the palliative care landscape than that of our ageing population, and the challenges that this will pose how we approach and define palliative care. This short series of posts will explore some of the key issues in this area of practice.
Ed: As you may know this month our #pallanz tweetchat in partnership with PCA is focused on Caring for the Carers. In this article Tessa Morgan, Merryn Gott, and Lisa Williams explore the experience and care needs of women who are palliative carers. This piece is part of an ongoing series of blog articles entitled “Gender in palliative care” .
It doesn’t take an expert to conclude that the palliative care workforce is dominated by women. Globally, women make up the vast majority of the paid palliative care workforce. Ninety percent of the nurses and health care assistants involved with end of life care are women and there are a higher proportion of women in Palliative Medicine than in most other specialities. Over half of Palliative Medicine physicians in Australia, for example, are women. This is in addition to the vast (and ever-increasing) number of women who provide unpaid care for their dying relatives. It is hardly a stretch, then, to regard palliative care as essentially a woman’s domain. Indeed, with the rise in population of the oldest-old, the need for more people – presumably women – to provide palliative care in hospice, aged care and community settings will continue to grow.
I read the news today oh boyAbout a lucky man who made the grade
When I was younger I was raised on a steady diet of rock and pop music. The Beatles, The Stones and Bowie were a regular sound track. An early and important experience of the significance of death for me was my father talking about the death of John Lennon. He spoke about it with the same hollow awe that I have heard people use in talking about JFK or Princess Di. These events and other deaths like them were for many moments of cultural punctuation. Events that changed people’s lives and their worlds.
Death and dying is all around us. Yet, we can be distanced from these realities due to the anxiety that death provokes and our society’s approach to dealing with it. Our relationship with the deaths of those closest to us can be limited by their being hidden away as a clinical activity within our hospitals and aged care facilities. By contrast the deaths of public figures have never been more visible and scrutinised. Social Media and the constant news cycle mean that we are always in the loop. Our uneasy fascination is privileged with contact and information.
Like many of you I was glued to Q&A last night. The topic was “Facing Death”
and the discussion pivoted around the panel’s view around the right or otherwise of Australians to have access to euthanasia.
Needless to say the twittersphere was running hot, but clear to a number of commentators was that many were poorly informed about the topics at hand. From my perspective one of the most concerning issues was a lack of understanding about what palliative care is and assumptions that it is on some level the same as euthanasia.
As many of you would know the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has recently released its expert advisory group Draft Report into discrimination, bullying and harassment in surgery. The results of the report are confronting even if they are unfortunately not altogether surprising.