The long-standing collaboration between Palliative Care Victoria (PCV) and Serbian Community Association of Australia (SCAA) has yielded yet another set of great outcomes for the Serbian and other communities in Victoria.
With a focus on raising awareness about Advanced Care Planning (ACP), this project delivered information sessions to over 300 members of the Serbian community and other multicultural communities including Indian, Sri Lankan, Mauritian, Chinese, Filipino and Afghani.
In an effort to reach an even broader audience, the project also launched a media campaign about Advance Care Planning through Serbian and other local media outlets. This included interviews on 3ZZZ Radio Serbian Program, Serbian MIS TV, podcast and an article in the Dandenong Star Journal newspaper. SCAA estimates that over 10,000 people were reached through this campaign.
In recognition of the critical role played by health professionals in raising awareness of ACP in their interactions with patients and their families, the project also conducted a number of in-depth consultations with Serbian speaking health professionals. These discussions revealed many of the challenges health professionals face in integrating conversations about ACP into their care. To paraphrase one health professional “ACP is a sensitive topic as it associates people with end of life. Therefore, it carries stigma and attempts to suggest it are usually rejected by patients and their families and deemed not necessary”.
Indeed, the nuanced nature of end-of-life planning can make promoting conversations about ACP very challenging. As reported by the project leaders “Some groups were very open and ready to discuss the topic and even requested more information and suggested presentations to other groups in their community. However, majority stated they knew little about ACP and would need more time to process the information, talk to their families and perhaps discuss with their peers”.
This ambitious project raised several important findings related to promoting ACP within multicultural communities:
- That as a concept, ACP is not well known or understood within the Serbian and other multicultural communities.
- That ACP carries a certain stigma as a sensitive topic associated with end-of-life and not something patients and families are readily eager to engage with.
- This lack of awareness and engagement makes it more difficult for health providers to raise the topic, especially in the context of very busy, time constrained clinical practice.
- That improving community awareness is the key to advancing conversations about and actively promoting ACP.
- That there is an ongoing need to resource projects such as this into the future.
Above all, this project has once again highlighted the importance of partnering with grass roots organisations as pivotal agents in engaging with multicultural and multifaith communities.
PCV extends its appreciation to SCAA Manager, Marina Celebic and Volunteer Coordinator, Biljana Trickovic for sharing their considerable expertise and their enduring commitment to promoting palliative care and planning for end-of-life.
Community Engagement Manager
Palliative Care Victoria