The phrase ‘dying a good death’, can be quite jarring to hear. However, death is one of the certainties in life and something that we should all discuss openly, according to VMCH Clinical Manager Naomi Lewis.
Clinical Manager, Naomi is responsible for continually improving service provision in residential aged care, including palliative and end of life care. With has a background in nursing, she has worked across the acute, community and residential aged care settings.
Naomi says that good palliative care should be very consultative, with involvement from the resident and their loved ones and specialist services (when required) while ensuring specific cultural, emotional and spiritual needs are respected.
“Good palliative care is about ensuring that residents maintain a quality of life when they are faced with a life-threatening illness. It is about preventing suffering and pain and ensuring that a resident and their loved one’s preferences for what they want at their end of life are respected and upheld.
“Palliative care at VMCH is resident-centred and all our staff have a role to play in the delivery of high-quality palliative care services, from our nursing staff through to our Pastoral Care team. We are so fortunate to have a Pastoral Care team who are available to provide emotional and spiritual support to residents and families at the end of life phase.”
So, what can residents and their families do to ensure their loved one dies a ‘good death’? According to Naomi one of the biggest things for residents and their families to do is establish an Advanced Care Plan Directive, or Medical Goals of Care.
“Residents and families can engage with our staff around these conversations. This allows us to record their wishes, so our staff can then ensure that they are followed when the resident approaches the end of life phase.”
Naomi understands that having a conversation about death is not always easy.
“However, it is so important, because everyone has the right to be involved in decisions around their own end of life care, whatever that may look like. We need to create an environment where residents and families feel comfortable to have those difficult conversations.”
“I love my job because you can make a difference. VMCH is a great organisation with very strong values and a commitment to ensuring that all residents receive high-quality care, including at the end of life.”