A generous donation has enabled us to bring internationally-renowned palliative care expert Dr Christina Puchalski to Perth for a free lecture at the State Library today at 12:30 - 1:30pm.
Dr Puchalski - Professor of Medicine at The George Washington University in Washington DC and founder of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health - is a world-leader in educating health professionals to address their patient's emotional health as well as the physical.
"The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering - knowing that it's not just about giving someone morphine to handle their distress is vital to effective care," Dr Puchalski said.
"At the end of life, a lot of existential questions come up - when something's made us aware we're not going to live forever and the things that may have been sustaining us, like work, are no longer there, what is it that really sustains us towards the end?
"We need to equip clinicians with the tools they need to address their patient's spiritual distress, and encourage patients to ask the important questions of themselves and loved ones when facing palliative care."
The anonymous donor said witnessing her mother's personal experience with palliative care inspired her to want to contribute to holistic palliative care education in Western Australia.
"My beautiful mum Lin died of pancreatic cancer in 2015 - she was strong, intelligent, witty, and genuine woman who dealt with her cancer diagnosis with the same courage and determination with which she approached life. She wasn't a quitter," She said.
"But in her final days, she was silent and still. Whilst she could no longer communicate, her mind, heart and soul were very much alive - it was clear in those vulnerable moments that it's not just the physical body that needs care; it's what's inside that matters most.
"I'm passionate about palliative care education because it's the expertise and compassion of the people who work in this field, and their endeavours to provide the best possible care, that make a difference to people in their final stages of life."
Dr Puchalski's free public lecture, ‘Finding Meaning, Living With Purpose', at the WA State Library on Monday May 21 at 12:30pm - 1:30pm will cover how spiritual practices like mindfulness can support one's ability to cope with stress and death. Registrations are not required.
Palliative Care Week: May 20 - 26
According to Palliative Care Australia 82% of Australians think it is important to talk to their family about how they want to be cared for, yet only 28% have actually done so.
"Palliative care is an inevitable reality for a large number of people in our community; 50 - 70 per cent of deaths in WA are clinically expected, and our cancer nurses receive around 8 calls via our 13 11 20 information and support line related to end-of-life care each week," Cancer Council WA CEO Ashley Reid said.
"National Palliative Care Week is a timely reminder to chat to your loved ones about the things that are important to you in the final stages of your life; having a clear understanding of your wishes will alleviate stress on both you and your family, and help doctors with decision-making should the need arise."
For information about Dr Puchalski two workshops for health professionals on May 22 - 23, call 13 11 20 or visit cancerwa.asn.au/professionals/pasce/
Palliative Care in Australia
• 29% of Australians over 65 years have more than 3 chronic conditions
• 50-70% of the 14,839 deaths in WA in 2016 were clinically expected
• 35% of Australians (7 million people) live with a chronic condition
• More than 70% of people prefer to die at home