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Compassionate Communities

It's something that many find difficult to talk about, but end of life care planning can improve the management of a patient's health conditions and help to keep people out of hospital unless it is absolutely necessary.

In our region, around 1,600 people would benefit from some form of end of life care each year, which equates to more than 133 people each month.

People are not comfortable talking about death. This forces end of life care discussions to happen during the time of crisis, when decisions may be less considered or made by people other than the person in the end of life stage. By talking and planning end of life care earlier, more suitable plans can be arranged and responded to when the time comes.

The facts are pretty sobering*:

  • 75% of us have not had end of life discussions
  • 60% think we don’t talk about death enough
  • Over 70% of us die in hospital though most of us would prefer to die at home
  • Very few of us die with an advance care plan (less than 10 percent)
  • The number of Australians aged 65 and over will double by 2050 increasing our need to plan while well and share our wishes with our loved ones

* Source: http://www.dyingtoknowday.org/

A series of key stakeholder workshops were held in 2017 to provide a forum for presenting and seeking review of findings from the research being undertaken.As a result, we released the End of life Care Report.

The Model

In 2018, The Groundswell Project was commissioned to pilot the Compassionate Communities model in the Mid-Upper Blue Mountains focused on end of life care - Our Compassionate City. Groundswell hosted a series of educational events to create a community that support and dignify a person’s eventual death, recognising that end of life is a normal stage of life. 

End of Life care planning is managed through Advance Care Planning and Advance Care Directives. 

Compassionate Cities are communities that publicly recognise people at end of life and seek to enlist all the major sectors of a community to help support them and reduce the negative social, psychological and medical impact of serious illness, caregiving, and bereavement. A compassionate city is a community that recognises that care for one another at times of health crisis and personal loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility.

In addition to this pilot, the Blue Mountains is the first community in the world to be invited to measure and understand our death literacy. The Death literacy Index will tell us who we are and what we have as a community when it comes to caring for people at end of life, and show us ways in which to move forward. This survey is a result of the 'Our Compassionate Community' partnership between The Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, The GroundSwell Project and Western Sydney University. 

Social Connectedness

We are working in partnership with the Australian College of Mental Health Nurse to pilot a model to improve social connectedness of older people. This project is aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness through the implementation of a compassionate community approach in the Hawkesbury community. Older Australians who are assessed by their primary health care professional as having, of being at high risk of, mental health and health conditions that are associated with social isolation and/or loneliness will be better supported in the community. 

This pilot is being evaluated by the Centre for Health Service Development (CHSD), Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong. 

More Information

For more information about these initiatives, please call Janice Peterson on 4708 8100 or contact us online.