Palliative care recognition

Uniting AgeWell’s Sorell Community, Ningana in southern Tasmania has been awarded a Tasmanian Palliative Care Award.

The residence, which introduced a suite of efforts to open up conversations about death and dying, was awarded the ‘Outstanding Palliative Care Organisation’ award at a ceremony last Friday.

The 72-bed residence’s Palliative Care Committee established a Guard of Honour to enable residents and staff to pay their final respects to their friend when a resident passes away.

“Previously, residents were notified of a fellow resident’s death through a memorial photo in a frame at the front door,” said Registered Nurse Corina McKenzie.

“Residents expressed their sadness at not being able to say goodbye to their friends and they often do not have the opportunity to attend their funerals.”

The Guard of Honour began with a small group of residents and staff lining up at the door to say goodbye to a resident as their body leaves the building, but it quickly gained momentum.  Now, residents, kitchen, maintenance, cleaning and care staff all form a line to say goodbye to their friend.

The daughter of one resident who had a Guard of Honour said: “It was so important for my family to see mum farewelled in such a touching way by the people she loved and who cared for her”.

Ningana has placed a strong emphasis on supporting clients to plan for end of life and palliative care through other initiatives, including information sessions and its annual White Lily Café series, where people come together to enjoy refreshments while talking about death.  

These initiatives support residents to die well with choice, dignity and respect, in a caring and supportive environment where they have often formed close relationships with other residents and even staff.

A recent review at Ningana found 98 per cent of residents had identified their end of life wishes through the completion of a Tasmanian Advanced Care Directive.