Jackie Quintana, Volunteer Coordinator of United Spanish Latin American Welfare Centre (USLAW) had a challenge on her hands: how to have a conversation on palliative care services with women from her community, particularly when end-of-life matters is a topic generally avoided.
Shared experiences brought tears and laughter
She was delighted to find her audience, the Only Ladies Seniors Spanish Club, were responsive and engaged. “We shared experiences, we cried together and we laughed too! They understood that quality of life can be maintained until the end”, she said. “I think they were really happy despite the fact we were talking about palliative care. I‘ve been able to transmit the message in a different way so they are not sad when we are talking.”
“One of the women teared up when I spoke about the services that palliative care offered. She said, “It is not easy for me, because my husband was in palliative care and it reminds me of all that we experienced.”
Another commented, “We know we have to talk about death at some point. However, our culture is not supportive and that makes it more difficult”.
At the end, we received really positive feedback, such as: “The information was very good”, “Thank you very much for the chachara (chat)!”
A place where skills and knowledge are shared
Since 2008, the Only Ladies Seniors Spanish Club have met in Doveton every Wednesday afternoon. At first, four of the pioneering members met in their homes. The group grew to 20 members. There are now 15 members, all over 65 years old, from Spanish speaking countries of South America, such as Uruguay, Argentine, Chile, Paraguay and Colombia.
The Club members are an active group that share talk and food but also skills and knowledge of craft and leisure activities, such as sewing, cooking, painting, handcrafting and reading. They look on each other as family. “Their mutual aim is to be independent, have somewhere to go and create shared experiences, just as we do with our friends,” said Jackie.
Palliative Care Victoria and USLAWC working together
Palliative Care Victoria is supporting the USLAWC to facilitate a total of nine sessions for Spanish speaking community members in the Inner North, Inner South, and Inner West. A further five sessions will be held in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland.