Time for End-of-Life Care conversation

Published 2 October 2012

Professor Colleen Cartwright
Planning for death is a subject that can make many squirm in their seat, but what if you knew it could help relieve the stress on your family during a traumatic time while also giving you some control over what medical treatment you receive?

Professor Colleen Cartwright, director of ASLaRC Aged Services Unit at Southern Cross University, is embarking on a national tour to present two reports she has written for Alzheimer’s Australia on End-of-Life Care for People with Dementia.

The main focus of the first report is on Advance Planning and what options are currently legal for terminally ill people.

“Planning for times when individuals are unable to speak for themselves because of illness can be a confronting issue, but one that is important to address,” Professor Cartwright said.

“Advance Planning assists people to record their wishes with regards to what medical treatment they want or don’t want to receive and to appoint someone to ensure their intentions are respected. It also helps people resolve their financial matters before they are unable to do so themselves.

“The processes of Advance Planning can provide comfort and certainty to people suffering terminal illnesses and their families, as well as medical and other health care staff.

“Unfortunately, not many people know how to go about Advance Planning and the legal requirements that are involved. These presentations will help to explain that.”

The second report examines doctor-assisted dying, often referred to as active voluntary euthanasia (AVE). Alzheimer’s Australia does not wish to take a position for or against AVE but given that more and more Bills are being brought before State and Territory Parliaments to legalise AVE, Alzheimer’s Australia felt that it was important that the issues on both sides of the debate were openly discussed.

“Many problems stem from confusion over what is, or is not, euthanasia,” Professor Cartwright said.

“This can lead to inadequate pain management, inappropriate use of medical technology, fear among health professionals of legal consequences of care provision, poor doctor-patient communication and disillusioned patients, families and carers.

“The presentation will discuss what is euthanasia and the legal ramifications surrounding the issue.”

The tour starts on Tuesday, October 2, in Albany, Western Australia, and concludes on Wednesday, October 31, in Canberra. (Tour dates below).

Photo: Professor Colleen Cartwright.

Tuesday 2nd, Albany WA, Stirling Club, 14 Stirling Terrace, Albany
10.30am – 12.30pm, People with dementia, their families & carers, plus people working in health and aged care, Elizabeth Barnes 0408 092 160.

Wednesday 3rd, Perth WA, Forte Mandurah Quay Resort, 10.30am – 12.30pm, As above, Sean Barrett 0432 903 483.

Thursday 4th, Brisbane Qld, Alzheimer’s Aust. Qld office training room, 825 Stanley St Woolloongabba, 4pm – 6pm, Professionals working in the dementia and other specialists, Mary Scarlett 0409 873 056.

Friday 5th, Brisbane Qld, As above, 10am – 12 noon, People with dementia, their families & carers, plus general public, As above.

Tuesday 9th, Ballarat Vic, Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre, 9am – 1pm, Consumers & Professionals, Anna Mackintosh 0418 652 132.

Wednesday 10th, Geelong Vic, Geelong Conference Centre, 9am – 1pm, As above, As above.

Thursday 11th, Hobart Tas, The Old Woolstore, Merino Room, 9.45am – 2pm (incl. lunch), As above, Linda Graham 0407 822 787.

Monday 22nd, Darwin NT, Nightcliffe Community Centre, 10am – 12.30pm, Family carers & people with dementia, Ruth Leslie-Rose 0412 890 270. 5pm -7pm, Professional staff providing palliative care, As above.

Wednesday 31st, Canberra ACT, Southern Cross Club, Woden, 1pm – 4.30pm, Health professionals & consumers, Jane Allen 0414 879 030.

Media contact: Steve Spinks media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794