Saturday, 30 September 2017

Notes from Dying Well Saturday September 23, 2017

Dying Well Notes from Saturday September 23
Attendance 50 at Welshmans Reef Winery 2.30-5pm
Format: Expert speakers followed by Q&A session.
Information packed and upbeat vibe to an important topic that many people are reluctant to think about - too morbid.
An eagerness for information, with  people taking notes.

David Stratton welcomed all, noting that
In a shared hospital ward with 3 80+yo men (I am 65) I see how people *long* to have these conversations. It's not just that the subject is taboo but also that most of us are too "polite" to broach it."What if they get upset?" is the question I hear. They didn't. They craved this conversation.”

Bernadette Ervin - Complex Care Co-ordinator Castlemaine Health. Explained what is Complex Care.
Supports and helps clients to learn how to better manage their own health. A useful service to know about.
The right care in the right place at the right time may reduce the need to go to hospital. Free service offered to residents in Mt Alexander and Macedon Ranges shires who are at risk of frequent admission to hospital.
People with heart disease, lung, diabetes, pain and other chronic conditions are helped to access services, social psychological support, help with medications use.
Bernadette’s approach is to ask the client “What is your biggest problem?” The answer can differ from what might be assumed. A person with unstable diabetes was unable to phone for an ambulance as he didn’t know how to operate his new smartphone.

Handout available from Castlemaine Health - Advanced Care Directive - A record of my future health care wishes. Bernadette recommended we fill it out and keep it in with our medications “in the bikkie tin” so that if an ambulance is needed this vital information is on habd. Lodge a copy with Castlemaine Health for their records and a copy to be signed and given to your GP.

Medical Enduring Power of Attorney should be appointed. The Office of the Public Advocate has produced a 56 page A4 booklet Take Control A Guide to Making Enduring Powers of Attorney with forms included.
Copies available from:
Another edition of this booklet will be available from March 2018. The revised edition will reflect further changes to power of attorney laws with the commencement of the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 on 12 March 2018.

The Office of the Public Advocate has a useful website. An enduring Power of Attorney is a way a person can exercise choice and control now, in case they are unable to make decisions in the future. They recommend that everyone 18 or older consider making Enduring Powers of Attorney.

As Dr Simon Benson a GP and long time member of Dying With Dignity (Vic) reminded us, anyone could have an accident, be in a coma or have a stroke without warning, none of us knows, and then it would be too late to make our wishes, choices, preferences clear.

“Why do they nail down the lid on the coffin?” Answer: “To keep the oncologists out!” More and more rounds of treatment with ever more severe side effects can rob a person of quality of life and precious time with loved ones. Do we want to be pain free or lucid towards the end?
Dying With Dignity provide various downloadable forms including a Refusal of Treatment form.
Where do we want to die?
Statistics show that 85% of the population wish to die at home but 85% actually end up in hospital.

Libby Moloney from Natural Grace an independent, holisitic, environmentally conscious funeral company based in Woodend spoke about the importance of a home like environment.  Overseas there are B&Bs available for those who want to have their family around them in their final days.

People can be as involved and as hands on as they choose, some keep their loved one in the house for a few days for a vigil using a supplied cold blanket to maintain a cool temperature. They may wish to tend the body themselves, others dig a grave by hand.
There is no legal requirement to have a funeral celebrant, people can design and perform their own ceremonies.

Clr. John Nieman circulated colour photos of his late wife’s shrouded ceremony. A calico shroud and a ‘community coffin’ was on display. It is now possible in some parts of the local area to have a shrouded cremation with a specially designed tray. Some families are travelling to Woodend for this option which is still not available in Melbourne.

Kelly Skinner - Independent Celebrant Newstead (5476 2768) Reminded us that funerals are for the living. If there are family issues or conflict, a bereavement is likely to make things much worse. A ceremony gives people the opportunity they need to express their grief and honour the life and personality of the deceased. Funeral Rights  by Australian author Robert Larkins (Viking 2007) is recommended reading

Lee Pearse - Independent Celebrant (5476 6330 ) emphasised the choices on offer to suit personal preferences and needs. Lee’s message was “It is your funeral.”

Ros Hart - Retired Grief Counsellor (0438762280) spoke of the need to start the important conversation and normalise talk of death. She  encouraged her good friend Nick Hudson to appoint  Medical and Financial Enduring Power of Attorney. The relief he felt at setting his affairs in order, has freed him up to enjoy the rest of his life..

Question & Answer session included lively discussion on Organ Donation.-if a home based death is chosen it is not possible to also have organs harvested due to distance from major teaching hospitals or aged organs.

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