As we approach the close of National Palliative Care Week 2020 we would like to say thank you to those special people who work in palliative care, this is not just the medical practitioners and nurses, but also the allied health professionals, such as pastoral care workers, pharmacists and dietitians, and all the volunteers and carers.
Death and dying are inevitable parts of life and are a uniquely personal experience. No two end-of-life situations are the same. If a person has a life-limiting condition, which means that it cannot be cured and will lead to the end of their life, the focus of their care shifts from aiming to cure them, to ensuring they have the best quality of life. This care can focus on:
- controlling their symptoms;
- emotional, spiritual and cultural well-being;
- planning for the future; and
- caring for their family and carers.
However, palliative care is not just for the very last days of life. Depending on their circumstances, a person may access palliative care for several years, months, weeks or days. Palliative care aims to improve and sustain quality of life for the patient and their loved ones and enable them to live as actively as possible until their death.
Palliative care allows for planning to ensure the patient and their family experiences the best quality of life and support possible throughout the dying process. It takes into account the wishes of the person about the type of medical care they want to receive, their living environment and cultural or spiritual practices that are important to them. Palliative care does not try to delay death or bring it on more quickly.
Whether you are young or old, sick or well—the one thing we all have in common is that dying will be part of our lives. For those with a serious, life-limiting condition, palliative care can make it a more positive experience. Palliative care can enable people to be comfortable at the end of their lives and ease their concerns and that of their families, allowing them to enjoy their time together.
Palliative and end of life care is everyone’s business, not just the domain of nurses and doctors. Dying is more than just a physical process requiring clinical/medical care. It involves social, cultural, spiritual and other domains of a person’s life.
At Ambulance Wish Western Australia we plan to help immobile terminally ill-patients fulfil their final wishes, at no cost to them or their families. Fulfilling a final wish is not just about the person living with a terminal illness. It provides an opportunity for their family members, friends and loved ones to share the experience with them to create lasting memories. For example, Betty (pictured) was Ambulance Wish Queensland’s first recipient, she was a mother of 8, grandmother of 19 and great grandmother of 29 and took enormous delight in recounting her final wish adventures to them all until she passed five weeks later. Her Ambulance Wish Bear now has pride of place in her daughter’s home and has become a treasured family memento.
Ambulance Wish Western Australia is run entirely on charitable donations and receives no Government funding. Managed by volunteers, every dollar goes to operating Ambulance Wish Western Australia and fulfilling last wishes. For those interested in volunteering with Ambulance Wish Western Australia, the website now contains application forms for clinician, driver and support roles.