What happens at the end of someone's life? What choices do people have if they want to die at home? And how can they make those choices with dignity and access to care?
These are the overarching questions researchers have explored for the Healthy End of Life Project (HELP) at La Trobe University. The project is about creating better capacity for communities to collaborate on important questions and solutions to death, dying and bereavement.
HELP also aims to promote end of life care and shift social norms around offering and accepting help. It is about encouraging death literacy in the community and removing any stigma that may surround asking for help or accessing care at the end of life.
Carolyn Vaughan, project lead for HELP in southern NSW from La Trobe University's School of Psychology and Public Health at Moruya's Mechanics Institute, said the project raises the subject of a healthy end of life and offers a way for community members to come together to talk about what that means.
Eurobodalla Council has partnered with La Trobe University and Palliative Care NSW to run a series of free sessions that will explore how the end of life experience for residents can be improved.
"These sessions are conversations that inspire choice and dignity for people around knowing their options," Ms Vaughan said.
"As people in community, we either know someone who's going to be a carer, or someone who needs a carer. We're going to perhaps need a carer ourselves one day. To not embrace that end of life conversation is naive in some ways, to think that it won't affect us. Particularly on the tail end of COVID. Wherever we are, we all know someone who has been affected by that."
Eurobodalla Council is one of the first local governments to partner with La Trobe on this project.
Ms Vaughan said working with local council's is critical.
"Councils are the closest level of government. They know their communities, they know who is living in the area, they know their needs. Local government has the opportunity to be real leaders in this work because they have that close connection with community."
The sessions will be held during National Palliative Care Week. The first session is on Tuesday May 24 and will explore palliative care, while others will explore themes of comfort and creating a care plan with loved ones.
"Palliative care helps you live your best life while you're facing illness. And to do that in a way that's really well supported by medical services, community and family," Ms Vaughan said.
Bookings through Eventbrite are essential. An online survey is available for those unable to attend the workshops but who wish to have input into the broader project.
For more information about the Healthy End of Life Project, including the online survey, click here
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