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Breaking taboos about death and dying

Researchers at the Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) are investigating how well Australians communicate about end of life care, and are seeking participants for the project.

The project will also identify the care services provided to residents during the last six months of their lives. Researchers are calling on older people and families to take part by sharing their stories, and help eliminate the taboo surrounding death and dying.

Researcher Sue Williams said end of life care – what it involves and what people want – greatly varied and was important to discuss.

“These conversations are difficult but it is important for people to tell others what preferences they have for their end of life care, know what support is available, and to let doctors and care staff know these preferences,” she said.

“The MARC project was initiated because it was clear that end of life preferences and treatment decisions, medical or otherwise, were not being communicated well.

“End of life care may involve multiple services across different settings. If care is not well integrated, and involves duplications, gaps and delays, people and their families can feel distress and frustration.

“The study will help MARC to understand specific gaps and areas of concern to assist in developing ways to improve the care provided.”

According to MARC, in Australia, 60 to 70 per cent of residents want to die at home, but only 14 per cent do. About 54 per cent of residents die in hospitals and 32 per cent in residential aged care facilities.

A team of experts in end of life and palliative care has been established to oversee the MARC project, which will coincide with National Advance Care Planning Week, from April 16 to April 22.

For more information or to participate, call 8387 2614 or visit: www.nari.net.au/marc.

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