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Byron Shire
June 14, 2021

Government fails to support dying at home in Northern Rivers

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Directors of Lotus Palliative Care, Lulu Shapiro and Megan Paul, with some of the nurses who will care for people during their last days. Photo Tree Faerie.

Eve Jeffery

Approaching the subject of dying is always tricky, often awkward, and never easy. But when you are faced with caring for someone at the end of their life, it helps if you can find support from people who have already navigated the path.

For many years Silver Chain has provided wonderful local palliative nursing care for people choosing to die at home in the Northern Rivers. Unfortunately, Silver Chain has not had their NSW Health contract renewed, nor has any other third party, and palliative care services will cease in the Northern Rivers from June 30.

Two of the nurses from Silver Chain, Lulu Shapiro and Megan Paul, are in the process of setting up Lotus Palliative Care, a non-government funded business that will continue providing palliative nursing care at home in the area.

Lulu and Megan both feel that choosing palliative care at home is the precise moment when compassion, warmth, and kindness have never mattered more.

A privilege and honour

Megan Paul and Lulu Shapiro both feel that choosing palliative care at home is the precise moment when compassion, warmth, and kindness have never mattered more. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘It’s a privilege and honour caring for people in their homes during their last days of life,’ says Lulu. ‘Fulfilling someone’s wish to die at home is the most meaningful gift I could give someone.’

Megan says that she understands she cannot change the fact a person is receiving palliative care, but she can make a positive difference to the quality of life they have remaining.

‘I fully respect an individual’s choice to die at home in a familiar environment. This is where memories and meanings have accumulated throughout their life and connections are most meaningful. I feel extremely privileged to assist and care for people in their own home at this important time in their life.’

Lulu and Megan say that all of the palliative care nurses working with them are highly skilled and experienced in the facilitation of services and the provision of specialist care during the last days of life. Their ability to manage events as they progress provides a professional and stable service for clients and significant others.

86 per cent of Australians would prefer to die at home

Evidence shows that 86 per cent of Australians would prefer to die at home but only 17 per cent achieve this goal. Lulu, Megan and their group of nurses are committed to supporting people in making an informed decision about their care and providing them with the opportunity to stay in their home, if that is their wish.

‘Working in palliative care is not a job, it is a vocational choice,’ says Lulu. ‘The palliative care specialists, be it the doctors, nurses or AINs that I have had the privilege to work with, are compassionate people who all share the belief that people should have a dignified and peaceful death.’

Lotus Palliative Care is available to everyone, whether you are deciding not to enter a clinical setting or choosing to transfer home. The service can be engaged at any stage of the journey and does not require a referral from a health professional.

Megan says caring for people at the end of their lives has enabled her to recognise what is important. ‘I embrace each day of my own life.’

To help raise funds, Lotus Palliative Care are having an event at the Billinudgel Hotel on Saturday May 29 from 3pm with live music and a giant silent auction. Details can be found on the Lotus Palliative Care Facebook page.

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