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Dignity in death

Dignity in death

Dignity in death

23 August 2017

To assist people during their end-of-life experience, we must address the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of each person.

By Sharon Callister

As the chief executive Officer of The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus, I believe that caring for older Australians during their end-of-life journey is an intricate part of the love we provide.

Due to the challenging nature of this inevitable journey in life, I often find myself being brought into many sensitive discussions, one being the debate about legalising euthanasia in Australia, particularly within a residential care setting.

As I write this article, thoughts of loved ones passed and our residents immediately come to mind, reminding me of my convictions and the importance of the care that Aged Care Plus provides.

While I understand the end-of-life journey is unique for everyone, I can only speak from my own experiences and it is my Christian faith that solidifies my view in this debate.

The Bible underpins the importance of the sanctity of life, and I do not believe this notion can be devalued. So when asked the question, “Should euthanasia be legalised in Australia?”, I will solemnly reply, no.

I do not say this without sympathy for those who are suffering. I say this from a place of love and compassion, framed by my desire to support and celebrate those who are nearing their transition from their earthly journey to greater glory.

I believe all human beings deserve to have their suffering minimised in every way possible with respect to the sanctity of life. In the well-known Bible passage of John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief ’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

I see the application of this scripture in the work we do at Aged Care Plus, where our response is to meet suffering with an effective, holistic approach to palliative care that supports the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological needs of the residents and their loved ones.

So what does comfort and peace look like in the final stages of life?

I believe the aged-care industry has a long way to go to truly provide comfort and peace during this phase of life, and it is my desire to see Aged Care Plus lead the way in the provision of a more effective and appropriate palliative care approach. It was this desire that drove us to develop our innovative palliative care philosophy, Hand to Heart.

I believe it is imperative to have an understanding of not just the physical needs of the dying, but also the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the individual. The Hand to Heart philosophy encapsulates this. Central to the Hand to Heart philosophy is the focus on advanced care planning through our unique spiritual assessment process.

Led by our centre chaplains and supported by a specialised team of health care professionals, we work with residents and their families to enable and empower the resident to choose a personalised care pathway.

We believe that a person’s individual story is by far the most important consideration on a care pathway. By understanding their stories and experiences with culture, religious practice and spiritual expression, we are able to shape their end-of-life plan to maximise peace and comfort during this time.

As a person’s end of life approaches and they enter their final weeks and days of their earthly journey, our care is amplified by providing additional physical therapies. Aged Care Plus also offers other services such as spiritual and family support to provide peace during this challenging time.

The focus of all care is to make the resident as comfortable as possible. My greatest wish in life is to see all older Australians have access to appropriate care and support, right up to their last days and moments.

It is my goal to bring to light the importance of a holistic palliative care approach with other aged-care services across the industry.

This is to ensure appropriate end-of-life care that respects the sanctity of life, and ensures this continues to take precedence.


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