Dying is a shared and unavoidable consequence of living.
Inadequate community awareness of death and dying can result in a lack of acceptance of death generally, and a delay in planning for and transitioning to the final phase of life.
All health and social service providers play a key role in educating consumers, carers and the broader community.
Consumers themselves have identified that a lack of knowledge of end of life care options and services can take a significant toll on patients and their families. There are additional barriers for culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal clients (HPCSA, 2013).
The Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee called for improvement in '... the provision and timeliness of information to palliative care patients, their carers and families. Processes should be put in place to ensure that patients, their carers and families are provided with the right amount of information, in the right format, at the right time and that a 'show bag' approach be avoided' (ASCA, 2012: xi ).
The impact of caring for someone at the end of life can have a profound effect on family members, friends, health professionals and aged care workers. For families, understanding the physical nature of the dying process provides important contextual information that helps avoid crisis-induced decisions at critical moments, particularly during the last days of life. However, caring for those who are dying can also serve to:
Building capacity in, and opportunities for, volunteers in palliative and end of life care contexts can generate multiple benefits across communities.