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Experts quizzed on how to help rural and remote communities learn about dying

Keynote conference speakers were quizzed on issues ranging from fundraising to helping rural and remote communities become more death literate.

Consumer Brian Gepp sought advice about how to get rural and remote communities talking about advance care planning.

Dr Christian Sinclair responded with two key points – making sure you bring a local champion and adding an information session to a regular event.

“You can make your message cyclical, so it’s on at the same time as things like rural fire education. Then your message isn’t as confronting, it’s just part of the regular, cyclical event.”

He also commented on an earlier question about integrated care – saying the United States had just been examining the links between health care and social services. He urged Australian palliative care workers to forget about the silos we put up, to forget about who gets the glory and where the funding comes from, and to ensure the models of care where the teams work together show good results for patients.

“It won’t come from the top down. We have to show governments that we can work together and get a good result for the people we care for or integrated care won’t happen.”

Professor David Currow said it was important to identify the ‘teaching opportunity’ to take the community on the journey to understanding and valuing palliative care.

“In Africa they used funerals at the height of the AIDs epidemic to talk to people about how to avoid the disease. There’s no point, for example talking to 18 year olds – they are bullet proof, but we could talk to people in their 50s and 60s at funerals, they can relate to it. We need to find the teaching opportunity to talk to our community,” he said.

The panel agreed more work needed to be done to increase community awareness of palliative care and change clinicians’ and patients’ understanding of palliative care being as much about a good life as dying.

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