New training resource for Indigenous end-of-life care
Palliative Care Australia has released a new online video to support health professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Filmed on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory, the video, Discussing Choices – Indigenous Advance Care Plans, is a practical case study for professional health, Aboriginal and community workers.
“For Aboriginal people, when it comes to end-of-life care, culture, kinship and Country are probably our most important things,” says Palliative Care Northern Territory (PCNT) President, Jonathan Dodson-Jauncey, who guides viewers through the video.
On Groote Eylandt, local health centre professionals have been working with the local Anindilyakwa people to complete an individual Advance Care Plan (ACP) called a ‘jura’.
Community members are empowered when health workers communicate clearly and respectfully, use translators whenever needed, involve the right family members, and are very specific about alternatives and options in different scenarios that may occur, as well as a person’s right to change their jura at any point.
Conversations between health professionals and clients around end of life are challenging. The same is true for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: talking about death and dying can be uncomfortable. As Dodson-Jauncey explains, discussing the end of life can be viewed as “tempting fate”.
Not a taboo subject
Dodson-Jauncey says the success health workers on Groote Eylandt have had working with the Anindilyakwa community is due to the support of the community and the elders, who have said that “this is not a taboo subject; I can talk about it”.
“We have to go from the community up to the clinic, as opposed to from the clinic down to the community.”
Dodson-Jauncey says preparing an ACP is also an opportunity to share culture and stories. It becomes a time of “actually getting time to spend with family, and time to share those stories. There might be things that we’ve never actually told, or expressed, to our family”.
He adds that an ACP document can include health and medical choices, and it can also include financial information. Being able to have your wishes written down in terms of returning to Country is really important, he says.
“It may be important for a person’s individual beliefs on the afterlife. For some Aboriginal people, we need to be back on Country to ensure the next part of our journey can continue. There are obviously some important things about being on Country, such as having access to our traditional bush foods, having access to our traditional healers.”
Where to find the video
Health trainers and health professionals are invited to incorporate the video into their suite of existing training resources: https://palliativecare.org.au/discussing-choices-indigenous-advance-care-planning/
Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may find content in this film upsetting.