70 family carers upskill to help loved ones with dementia at their end of life


More than 70 North Queensland family carers, from as far north as New Mapoon in Cape York and west to Charters Towers, have upskilled so they can assist those with dementia at their end of life.

The training was delivered through the Last Days Dementia Program workshops, which are funded by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) through the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care program, and presented in collaboration with HammondCare.

Held recently across Cairns, Townsville, and Mackay, the workshops created a space to talk openly about dying, while also sharing practical knowledge and tools.

Participants said they offered open discussion, personal experience stories, and excellent information.

One carer said, “the topic of death and dying is usually a feared one, but it was very refreshing to have a normal conversation about it, and our society needs many more of them. I learned a lot of practical information.”

“I only wish the workshops could happen more often as there are a lot of people who do not know the depth of the care they can give to a loved one,” said one carer from Cairns.

While another participant said, “we need to normalise death and dying as a standard part of life.”

NQPHN CEO Sean Rooney said consultations with compassionate communities in North Queensland revealed that families and carers needed help.

“The NQPHN Older Persons Health and Palliative Care Manager Maria has advised us that it’s essential to help families and carers of people living with dementia to understand what’s ahead when their loved one is at the end of their life,” Mr Rooney said.

“These workshops give carers practical knowledge to help them plan and prepare to have open conversations about people’s dying wishes and preferences.

“That’s why we partnered with HammondCare to bring the Last Days Dementia Program to North Queensland and upskill family carers of those living with dementia.”

According to the Northern Queensland PHN Heath Needs Assessment (HNA) 2022-24 most people receiving palliative care do not access specialist palliative care services.

About 70 per cent of palliative care is delivered outside the specialist, hospital settings and is delivered by primary care providers such as GPs, health and community services, aged care services, and community and volunteer organisations and groups.

It’s for this reason that family carers are an integral part of Australia’s health system and palliative care and provide the foundation of our aged, disability, palliative, and community care systems.

Townsville Last Days Dementia Program workshop
The Last Days Dementia Progam workshop in Townsville.
Mackay Last Days Dementia Program workshop
The Mackay workshop was well attended.
Cairns Last Days Dementia Program workshop
The training in Cairns was also well received.

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