Live and die your way

PALLIATIVE care. It’s a subject close to us all, but no talked about nearly enough.

Imagine if we embraced the end of life as we do the start of life. We prepare for birth; we prepare for life. But there is no formal preparation for our last chapter.

Peak bodies including Palliative Care Australia have embraced Live The Life You Please, a feature documentary film about living and dying in Australia – part of a social impact campaign that will change the way you think about your final chapter.

The campaign aims to improve awareness about palliative care, advocate for increased access to essential palliative care and related health care services, and to help start important conversations about living the life you please until the very end.

Produced by multi-award-winning filmmakers Mike Hill and Sue Collins, it is a treasure trove of incredible stories from across Australia.

Executive producer and Palliative Care Australia chief executive Camilla Rowland said it delivers a persuasive case for palliative care and changing the way we think about the end-of-life.

“Palliative care … provides treatment for symptoms, it addresses pain and psycho- logical distress as well as spiritual issues. It can occur for the person with a life-limiting illness as well as for their family and carers.”

Palliative Care Australia found 88 per cent of people believe it is important to start thinking and talking about their wishes and preferences for care if they become seriously or terminally ill. However, half have done nothing about it.

The film highlights that best practice care can help make the final chapter a beautiful one.

“The infinite capacity for humans to grow even whilst grappling with life-limiting illness is incredibly inspiring, ” director Mike Hill said. “The film will make you smile, laugh, laugh harder and occasionally shed a tear.”

For writer and producer Sue Collins, the film was a roller coaster of emotions.

“From deep gratitude to all the participants who so openly shared their stories at such a vulnerable time in their lives, to inspiration from the wisdom they shared and sadness that so many people don’t have the opportunity to have a positive end-of-life experience.”

Presenter Simon Waring leads viewers through the lives of people who have experienced or are facing the end of life, including his personal experience.

“The death of one of my daughters, one of my sons and my wife has had a deep impact,” he said. “The beautiful and life-affirming experience we had caring for my four-year-old son at his end of life was only made possible by the amazing palliative care support our family received. That level of support should be available to all Australian families, no matter where they live.

Matters of life and death

MATTERS of life and death will be front and centre as National Palliative Care Week from May 21-27 high- lights the people at the heart of quality care.

Palliative Care Australia and its member organisations are developing a dynamic promotional campaign and program of events.

“We are also keen to use the week to recognise our amazing volunteers, carers and paid workforce – the doctors, nurses, physios, social workers, occupational therapists, dietitians and others who all contribute to that wholistic, team approach to palliative care,” said chief executive Camilla Rowland. “A vibrant social media campaign will high- light their dedication, skill, and compassion – especially over the last few years where demand for palliative care services has increased by at least 30 per cent on the back of the pandemic.”