Palliative Care: Removing the stigma and creating conversation

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Palliative Care: Removing the stigma and creating conversation

Australian Palliative Care Week (21-27 May) is an annual event held in Australia to raise awareness of the importance of palliative care and to promote the availability of quality palliative care services to individuals suffering from life-limiting conditions and their families and caregivers.

Palliative care is an approach to the treatment of patients with a life-limiting condition, which focuses on controlling the pain and mitigating other symptoms. The objective of palliative care is to enhance the quality of life of the patient during their final days and provide support to their caregivers and family members. Despite its importance and increasing recognition, many individuals still are not aware of the support services available.

Death and dying, as topics of conversation, can be sensitive and personal with various outcomes of these discussions. Some individuals may prefer not to discuss these topics, while some may find comfort in discussing their situation and wishes relating to it. As caregivers or family members, it is critical to approach these conversations with sensitivity, empathy, and understanding.

The importance of sensitively discussing death and dying is that the person can contact their family members and have a say in their final days of life. These conversations can offer comfort, control, and confidence to the individual, knowing that they have a degree of autonomy and their wishes acknowledged.

It is essential to acknowledge that these discussions can be challenging. Begin by understanding where the person is coming from and their needs and tell them why you want to talk and what they would like from the discussion. There may be circumstances where the person may not wish to have a discussion about death and dying, or may wish to have further time to consider having a conversation at a later opportunity.

When thinking about accessing services, there are many ways Gippslanders can access palliative care. It all starts with talking to your General Practitioner, specialist or health professional including obtaining a referral to a palliative care service. Palliative care can be provided at home, in hospital (public or private) or in a residential aged care facility. Gippsland has eleven funded specialist palliative care beds across the region’s public hospitals, and private palliative care admissions to Maryvale Private Hospital are also available.

Gippslanders are fortunate to be supported by Dr Ahmed Nagla who is a specialist palliative and pain physician who began calling Gippsland home in February 2021. Dr Nagla is an experienced specialist who works directly with Gippsland’s public health services and additionally co-ordinates direct admissions for palliative care to Maryvale Private Hospital, providing a seamless and supportive admission process. Dr Nagla is committed to improving the care of those living with a life limiting illness and ensuring their journey is comfortable and supportive.

For more information on accessing palliative care services at Maryvale Private Hospital, call us on (03) 5132 1200.