Expert calls for national conversation on how we want to die

Leading international palliative care expert, Prof Rod MacLeod today called for a national conversation on how Australians want to die.

Speaking at the start of National Palliative Care Week (22-28 May), Prof MacLeod said Australians must be more open about death and talk with their family and friends about how and where they want to die.

“This important conversation needs to happen now. There are too many misconceptions around palliative care and the choices available. A national conversation would allow us to make better informed choices about the end of life,” Prof MacLeod said.

“The Federal Government should fund a public awareness campaign encouraging people to talk about how they would like to die, which would also lead to a better national dialogue around issues of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.”

He said it was also essential to promote the uptake of advance care planning across the health system so that people can give this important time of their lives due consideration: “Writing a will, planning for how and where you want to die – these are all issues that require thought, time and courage.”

Better education needed

Prof MacLeod said there should also be more education in palliative care for all relevant health professionals, and palliative care training modules should be included in all relevant university courses.

“Ensuring proper training about palliative care among health professionals makes for a far better experience in palliative care.

“Funding for palliative care programs and integration of existing services is also crucial – so all Australians have access to the same services. A good example is the NSW program which provides assistance for people wanting to die at home – this should be made available in all states and Territories.”

“We all want to meet the end of life with a sense of peace and resolution. Unless we have an open, honest and brave conversation about death in this country, we will continue to struggle with the hard choices that face us all at the of life,” Prof MacLeod said.

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