- New research shows that Compassionate Communities – an innovative model of ‘end-of-life care’ – can save the healthcare system $561,256 AUD over six months1
- 87% Australians agree that at least some end-of-life planning is important; however, many experience barriers to taking action2
- Dying to Know Day (Tuesday 8 August) encourages Australians to ‘get dead set’ by having conversations and start end-of-life planning
Sydney, Australia – Tuesday 8 August 2023: Dying to Know Day – a national annual campaign that helps Australians live, grieve, and die better – is calling on the Australian government to fund community-led approaches for end-of-life care. A keynote presentation at NSW Parliament House on Dying to Know Day (Tuesday 8 August) will bring together experts and politicians to showcase new research that demonstrates community-led public health initiatives for end-of-life care in Australia.
New research shows that innovative models of ‘death’ or ‘end-of-life care’ where community works in partnership with healthcare services, enable better dying outcomes as well as cost savings to the health system.1 Known as Compassionate Communities, this approach encourages communities to use its inherent capability to provide practical and emotional support for those who are caring, dying, or grieving within the community.
Preliminary findings of the study on the Compassionate Connectors Program, part of the South West Compassionate Communities Network in Western Australia, demonstrated that the approach enabled significant declines (15%) in hospital admissions. It also showed that those who were admitted to hospital stayed for a 28% less time, and there was 108% more use of community-based services, which are in general cheaper than hospital-based services. These are some of the benefits of having community networks of support to rely on.
A cost-consequence analysis revealed that using the Compassionate Connectors Program enabled a net saving of $561,256 AUD to the healthcare system over a 6-month period*.1
With the number of people dying expected to continue to double over the next 15 years3, this first-of-its-kind network in Australia presents a timely opportunity for researchers to measure the impact of community-led approaches to end-of-life care.
Professor Aoun, who is the research lead as well as the Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at The University of Western Australia and 2023 WA Australian of the Year, says that it’s clear there is untapped potential in Australia to support an approach to end-of-life care that puts people at the centre of planning and decision-making.
“We forget that death used to be an event that was centred around family and friends with a medical component. Now, it has shifted to being a medical event with less contact time within meaningful relationships. However, community has an indisputable role and responsibility in the provision of care when it comes to death, dying, grief and loss,” said Professor Aoun.
“Death is over medicalised, institutionalised and relegated to healthcare professionals. This view has ‘deskilled’ the community as partners in end-of-life care. Improving death literacy through education is a critical prerequisite to enabling the community in a way that empowers meaningful change in how Australians approach end-of-life care and planning,” said Professor Aoun.
Dying to Know Day (which takes place annually on 8 August and is a campaign run by CCNB) aims to improve death literacy in individuals and communities to reshape the way we approach death, dying and end-of-life planning. Death literacy is the knowledge, compassion and practical skills that enable supportive action and active decision-making around someone’s end-of-life choices.
Research conducted by Community Care Northern Beaches (CCNB), revealed that while nine in ten (87%) Australians believe it is important to do some end-of-life planning, only one in three (35%) have actually taken action.2
The research shows that almost two in three (64%) Australians feel there are challenges and barriers to them undertaking end-of-life planning – despite most Australians believing that if they were to die unexpectedly, having some end-of-life planning in place would help the people they care about.2
Karen (Kaz) Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of CCNB, says that normalising conversations – and action – around death and dying, for all Australians, is crucial to building up community capability to support end-of-life care.
“We know that Australians think planning around end-of-life is important. However, people can feel ill equipped to act or start a conversation – and, sadly, this can mean that end-of-life experiences are not aligned with an individual’s values, preferences or wishes,” said Ms Dawson.
“Dying to Know Day asks Australians of all ages and stages of life to ‘get dead set’ around the reality of death and dying – because death is going to happen to us all. By making important choices as individuals, we can create death literate communities that offer quality, person-centred support and care we all need at the end-of-life.”
To register your Dying to Know event, find an event or access support for your end-of-life planning journey, visit www.dyingtoknowday.com. Join the conversation via social media using the hashtag #GetDeadSet and #DyingToKnowDay or tagging @D2KDay on Facebook and Instagram.
For access to interview requests and images please contact:
* Assuming the enrolment of 100 patients over an average 6-month participation period.
- South West Compassionate Communities Network 2023, Compassionate Connectors Program: More about the researcher. Available at: https://comcomnetworksw.com/compassionate-connectors-program/
- Dying to Know Day 2022, Getting Dead Set: An overview of Australian attitudes and behaviours around death, dying and end-of-life planning. Available at: https://www.dyingtoknowday.com/2022-research-4
- Swerissen H and Duckett S 2014, Dying Well. Grattan Institute. Available at: https://www.grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/815-dying-well.pdf
Dying to Know Day is an initiative of CCNB:
A valued partner, trusted provider and respected employer, CCNB’s purpose is to enable individuals and communities to grow, connect and feel supported through collective expertise.
Established in 1994, CCNB is the Northern Sydney Region’s largest independent, not-for-profit, community-led organisation. Our focus is to support people, their families and carers to navigate the health and social care systems, access the services they require, when they require them, and to live they life they want.