From VMCH CEO, Sonya Smart
24 – 30 May is National Palliative Care Week.
We are an organisation that is committed to providing excellent palliative care. Dying is a normal and sacred time in life. We believe it’s important to be well-prepared for death, for the benefit of our residents, their families and staff. This involves understanding when a resident is entering the palliative care phase of life and supporting them at this time.
We are proud to be the flagship organisation involved in the End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) program. Our ELDAC Palliative Care Strengthening partnership project and training will come to an end next month, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes from the research and how the integrated palliative care services have benefited our staff, residents and their families.
We are already achieving some great things in palliative care. There is also more to come, with construction commencing on our new comfort care service at O’Neill Prahran. This will be an end of life care service, which will meet a gap in the current health system that impedes people from experiencing a time of nurture and care at the sacred time of the end of life with their loved ones.
The O’Neill Comfort Care Residence will provide a unique 22 bed home for people to experience the best available support at their end of life. We expect the O’Neill Comfort Care Residence to open in early 2021.
The goal of comfort care is to achieve the best quality of remaining life:
• offering nourishment before hunger
• managing pain before it’s out of control
• offering rest before fatigue
• offering activities before boredom
• offering nurturing and care for the whole person and their loved ones.
Providing for the cultural, spiritual and psychosocial needs of people and their families and carers is as important as meeting their physical needs. O’Neill will have a dedicated pastoral care service to offer spiritual and emotional care to residents and families supported by a team of dedicated volunteers who will offer friendship and practical support to residents every day.
In 2017, Palliative Care Victoria (PCV), estimated that 1 in 4 Victorians who die each year (approximately 10,000 people), died without adequate access to palliative care. This is far too many.
At VMCH we want to be champions of palliative care, not just at O’Neill, but across all our residences and, where appropriate, in our other services too. We want to achieve our goal of empowering our staff and volunteers to know when our residents are entering the final phase of their life and providing the best support to them and their families.