The Caring Circle project

 

 

 

 

Death is a natural and an inevitable part of life, but a good death is achievable as long as we talk about it and plan ahead. – Ebony Lewis, researcher and nurse

Death remains a taboo topic and is surrounded by fear, denial and removed or sterilised from discussion on a daily basis1. Australians are living longer due to advances in medical technology, but are still dying in their least preferred places; most at hospitals (54%), residential care (32%), with only few (14%) dying comfortably at home2.

Funded under the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care's Greater Choices for at Home Palliative Care measure, The Caring Circle project aims to improve the health outcomes and end-of-life care journey of people living with a life-limiting illness (non-cancer) in rural and remote Victoria, through embedding early advance care planning discussions and integrated patient-centred palliative care strategies.

Palliative care is recognised as a fundamental part of healthcare that needs to be incorporated into routine practice and doesn’t only apply to people in terminal care. Palliative care is about allowing anyone with a life-limiting illness with the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible. 

People with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure and other chronic diseases can also benefit from end-of-life planning. In particular, advance care planning is a heartfelt conversation and a personal statement that goes beyond filling in a form; it’s a commitment to honour and respect an individual’s values and choices at the end-of-life.

Project focus

Linked with health needs recently addressed in the Murray Health Report – Healthy ageing in our region, The Caring Circle project will focus on a series of strategies for the next three years, aimed to:

  • promote community education and awareness to raise the importance of planning ahead and having people's end-of-life wishes respected and documented
  • enhance early identification of people living with life-limiting illnesses accessing general practice services
  • engage early advance care planning discussions and care planning in the community
  • expand professional development opportunities in palliative care for health service providers to improve system capacity
  • identify existing care enablers for holistic care planning for patients.

 

Three things you can do to live and die well

  • Ask yourself the big questions:
    • What treatments would I not find acceptable when death is inevitable
    • What is an acceptable quality of life to me? What would this look like?
    • Who do I want close to me when my time comes?
  • Talk it out: Sharing what you want is important; don’t assume your doctor and family know your wishes. The best time to have these conversations is as early as possible.
  • Write it down: Write down your wishes in your advance care plan.

What to do next?

  • Document it: Endorse your advance care plan by following the simple steps available here and update your plan regularly3
  • Share your story: Sharing your personal experience can help others understand the need to plan ahead. Click here to submit your story
  • Follow us on social media: Stay updated on future events via our Facebook page and this webpage.

Are you a health service provider?

Support services

Click here for a list of mental health support services.

For more information

For any queries relating to The Caring Circle project, please contact:

References:

  1. Generous, M. A., & Keeley, M. (2017). Wished for and avoided conversations with terminally ill individuals during final conversations. Death Studies, 41(3), 162-172. doi:10.1080/07481187.2016.1236850
  2. Broad, J., Gott, M., Hongsoo, K., Chen, H. and Connolly, M. (2013). Where do people die? An international comparison of the percentage of deaths occurring in hospital and residential care settings in 45 populations, using published and available statistics, International Journal of Public Health, 58, p 257-267
  3. UNSW, 10 Minute Genius | Stories from the End of Life

Page last updated 15 September 2022