It can take a village to care for someone who is dying

Caregiving of hinengaro (mind), tinana (body) and wairua (spirit) is a big job and it requires a lot of fortitude to do this over months and sometimes years (as with some cancers and life-limiting conditions such as diabetes or dementia). Providing this level of care, especially if the illness the kaumātua has requires around-the-clock care, or they are at end-stage, can be tiring. Often there may be only one or two caregivers available to help. With globalisation many whānau are now living in Australia and other parts of the world. In addition, not all whānau have the human resources, knowledge, skills, support and resources needed to carry out 24/7 wrap-around, end of life care. Many whānau caregivers were role models and are sadly no longer alive, and therefore cannot pass on their time-honoured care customs.

Recommendations

Be aware that today the stereotype of the large family in many instances is a myth in today's world and many whānau will need sustainable support put in place, especially for whānau with fewer members/carers, if they want it.

For health and palliative care professionals, we recommend:

  • Ensure that kaumātua who do not have whānau available to care for them or the family may lack the necessary resources to carry out end of life care have all the support they can access from the services that are available.

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