August 8, 2019

Dying to Know Day

Northern Health is marking Dying to Know Day in the Northern Hospital foyer today, to change the stigma around talking about death by activating conversations and curiosity.

We welcomed Mr Andrew Giles, Federal Member for Scullin, to Epping Gardens Heritage Care and Northern Hospital.

While talking to one of our patients at Epping Gardens, Mr Giles said how important it is to have respectful care at the end of life.

“It’s important to have these conversations – it’s about the dignity for everyone. It means a lot to me to be able to talk to palliative care patients and understand their needs,” he said.

Bridget Senior, End of Life Nurse Lead, said this is a national initiative which has been running for around six years.

“The aim is to promote conversation about death, dying and bereavement. Today, we have representatives from advance care planning, organ and tissue donation, how to make a will, a coroner, social work, palliative care and community palliative care,” she said.

St Monica’s College STEAM team and their teacher Natalie Ilsley created the ‘Tree of Life’ activity for Dying to Know Day to promote conversation with staff and the community about what is important to them at end of life.

“The community wrote their wishes on the leaves that the STEAM class made and stuck it on the branches of the tree they created. It was a great discussion point throughout the day with the main focus being around the importance of family at the end of life,” Bridget said.

Jeff Vasquez from the Victorian Coroner’s Office said this is the first time a hospital has invited him to an event of this kind, emphasising that some people might have troubles around organising funerals and that all cultural sensitivities are carefully considered.

“This is the first invitation we received this year and we gladly accepted, as we are trying to increase our community engagement. It’s important for the community to know more about the coroner process. We are planning more roadshows in the community and I am glad Northern Hospital is the first place we visited,” he said.

Displays and information was provided by various teams including Social Work, Chaplaincy, Aboriginal Support Unit, Advance Care Planning, Organ Donation, TALS, Donate Life and Banksia Community Palliative Care.

The ‘Dying to Know’ initiative aims to encourage death literacy and provide a space to talk about end of life plans.

Dr Alison Giles (Palliative Care Physician), Julius Quiring (Palliative Care Nurse Unit Manager), Andrew Giles MP with patient