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Speaking of dying ….. and what’s important to us




In this second of the PCV series of palliative training workshops, held on 7 November 2019 at the CoAsIt office, 21 aged care workers from ethnic/multicultural organisations talked about just that …. dying.

Facilitator Cathy McMahon and Margarita Makoutonina (pictured above) from Calvary Health Care Bethlehem’s Learning, Development and Research team introduced participants to Palliative Care Conversations. Cathy described ways in which workers can explore statements or questions about dying, rather than react by blocking or distracting the client.

Help in dealing with difficult situations

Participants described examples of being with clients who are approaching death. In one case, a worker who had supported a client for many years, responded to a request to visit the client in hospital. When she got there, she realized the client who had no relatives, wanted her to be present as she was dying.

What if the family does not want the worker to mention to the client that she/he is dying? Cathy explored many possible ways of dealing with such a culturally loaded situation.

Values can change throughout the illness

Every situation, regardless of cultural background, is individual. Participants were urged to ask, “what is important for you?”. Values change during the illness trajectory, and we need to give space for this to be voiced. Clients may carry hope till the end, but even this shifts and changes over the illness trajectory.

“It was a fantastic session – all the staff commented on the quality of the presentation and indeed, Cath’s style and approach”, said Emma Contessa of CoAsIt.

Marina Celebic of Serbian Community Association of Australia agreed: “Cathy is a great presenter and she engaged the audience in conversation about Palliative Care during the whole session.  I found the information discussed during the workshop was important for the (palliative care support) project we do.“

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