May 17, 2019

New guides support the spirituality of dying and preparation for end of life

In advance of Palliative Care Week, Meaningful Ageing Australia has just launched two new guides which give aged care providers tools and resources to implement and manage preparations for end of life by all staff in aged care.

The Spirituality of Dying Workshop Facilitator’s Guide provides straightforward material for organisations to increase the skill of all staff who touch the lives of those who are dying.

The introductory sixty-minute workshop aims to extend understanding of spirituality and enable all team members to make more meaningful connections with older people and their families when end of life is imminent. Personal awareness, a spiritual care refresher, cultural understanding and practices, end of life rituals and self-care are all included.

The Implementation Tool “Older people are supported to prepare for end of life” supports organisations with the National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care Outcome 3.9. Facilitated advance care planning, suggested scripted conversations about death and dying, ideas to support life review, reflection on legacy and other supporting tools are provided, including worksheets and links.

Ilsa Hampton, CEO of Meaningful Ageing Australia, stresses that giving people the chance to prepare well for the end of their life is key to meaning-centred care.

“It’s vital that staff working with older people understand how to conduct conversations that are supportive and affirming, and that older people are given many ways to prepare for the end of life including spiritual or emotional wills and life review processes. Facilitated advance care planning discussions also lead to improved end of life care, and improved family and supported person satisfaction.’*

“The trial process with staff in a range of settings really brought home the need to give the workforce more time to prepare to do their best work at this point in the support journey.”

The Department of Health highlights the importance of understanding the person’s own cultural and personal values to avoid ambiguity with clinical decisions.  “This provides context when [the clinician] considers the current treatment and care options, and it will allow them to be as sure as they can that they are giving effect to the wishes of the person and acting in the person’s best interest. Values are inherent to an individual.”*

Both the Spirituality of Dying Workshop Facilitator’s Guide and the Implementation Tool 3.9 for the National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care are evidence-informed, and prepared with input from service providers and others. They are available to members of Meaningful Ageing from today.  Limited content will be made freely available for non-members via social media channels later in 2019.

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