The West Australian Opinion 23 May 2023

“Once upon a time, we were born at home and we died at home.

Death and dying — and their partner’s loss and grief — are still 100 per cent prevalent in Australian communities at any given time.

But today, the answer to end of life is the ever-increasing professionalisation and medicalisation of dying and its processes.

We forgot that death used to be a social event with a medical component, not as it has become now: a medical event with a social component.

Too many people are dying in a way and a place that is not reflective of their values or their choices – end of life is interrupted with preventable and costly admissions to hospital where control and even dignity are surrendered.

Only 5 per cent of a dying person’s time is spent with a health professional, such as their doctor or a nurse. The other 95 per cent is spent with friends, families, churches, pets, and their community — and sometimes, sadly, they face death alone.

To this day, I find it amazing that the one experience we all go through is left to chance in so many ways.

The inevitability of death and dying makes it everyone’s business and everyone’s responsibility at some point, so we need to have a serious rethink regarding the direction end-of-life care is heading.

Let’s stop overestimating the importance of professional support, and stop underestimating what family, friends and neighbours can provide.

The number of people dying is expected to double in Australia in the next 25 years. For palliative care to be accessible to everyone and everywhere, the community needs to be an equal partner in order to provide quality healthcare at end of life.

If we are to have quality of life and quality of death, the community and palliative care services need to work in partnership, from diagnosis of the terminal illness through to bereavement. Let’s connect formal care with informal care.”

Samar Aoun The West Australian Opinion 23 May 2023 It won't kill us to speak openly about death and dying
Samar Aoun The West Australian Opinion 23 May 2023 It won’t kill us to speak openly about death and dying

Read more