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Concerns for palliative care patients ‘robbed of dignity’

Article image for Concerns for palliative care patients ‘robbed of dignity’

Amid strict coronavirus restrictions on visitation, concerns are being raised for those in palliative care who may face dying alone.

Professor Meera Agar, Chair of Palliative Care Australia, tells Ben Fordham it’s a difficult situation, and families should negotiate with healthcare workers who are approaching the issue on a case-by-case basis.

“Personal connection is so important at the end of life.

“I’d encourage people to tell the health professionals something about their loved one: who they were, what their interests are, so that health professionals can connect to that person when the family is absent in a much more authentic way.”

She also advises families to communicate with their relative about why they aren’t visiting – in her experience, patients understand the seriousness of the situation more often than not.

“Even when people have a serious illness they rise to the challenges that are in front of them and put the welfare and wellbeing of all the people around them [first], because that has been important to them for their whole lives.”

Ben has a special sympathy for those who cannot say goodbye, telling listeners being with his dad the moment he passed away was “really special to me… it will be with me forever.”

“He spent the last two days of his life surrounded by people he loved.

“But right now it’s very different. Family members are being warned to be extremely careful when visiting the elderly, because we could kill them.

“It’s robbing the dying from a degree of dignity, and it’s also stealing from the rest of us.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview 


Ben Fordham