Earlier this year I took the opportunity to attend the Compassionate Communities Symposium in Sydney. It was a jam-packed 2-day event from which I learnt so much. I learnt what a Compassionate Community is and how it can be of benefit. I also realised how my role as an End of Life Doula can be beneficial in creating support networks and enhancing compassionate communities.
So, what is a Compassionate Community?
“A Compassionate Community is a community that recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility. Serious personal crises of illness, dying and death and loss may visit any of us, at any time, during the normal course of our lives. A compassionate city is a community that squarely recognises and addresses this social fact. “Kellehear 2007
What did I learn from the symposium?
The biggest take home point I received was that we each need to stop and consider where our community networks are and how best we can draw on these in times of need.
Times like when there is a crisis point and we need to step into the role of carer.
How do we ask for help and allow the help to be given?
We are all so very good at putting on a brave face, managing the dilemma placed in front of us and turning down offers of care.
We are fine We are managing
But how do we sustain that level of care when sometimes illnesses can be a long drawn out process. Even the dying phase, when the care demands are higher, can take months. It is times like these that we need our networks of support to help get us through these difficult moments.
As an End of Life Doula, this concept enabled me to define my role in the caring process more clearly. I can see how vital my job is to assist this process of activating people’s networks and facilitating the care and support needed so that those in the inner network can focus on the person they are caring for and have the support to sustain them to the end.
By assisting people to create a healthy support network we are creating benefits for all those involved. Most importantly, the person with the life-limiting illness and their carers are well supported. The people who are providing the support have a sense of purpose and feel proud to be of assistance. They do not feel that they are being burdened like we tend to perceive.
Everyone involved has now learnt how to care for someone at the end of their life and in turn can pass the knowledge and skills onto others in the community. When we have these skills in the community we are then less reliant on the health and social systems. Systems which are already under strain and unable to cope with the growing demand.
From the statistics presented the compassionate communities concept showed another benefit. Fewer people were hospitalised and more people were successfully cared for at home and could die at home because they had the essential support networks in place.
So, if the majority of the population want to die at home we need to activate our communities and support each other to foster and grow our networks.
Essentially, I feel that we are all compassionate beings and our communities already have the skills and resources to create a compassionate community for all.
For more information about the Compassionate Communities movement. Read More
” Compassion is a fundamental human emotion.
A recognition that we are all in it together “
The End of Life Care provides resources, information and guidance which enables you to understand the End of Life process and instils a sense of confidence and control.
Nicolette is an End of Life Doula, who provides a compassionate approach to life and death. She will support you, hold your hand and guide you every step of the way.
Her purpose is to provide a heartfelt engagement with life while providing a compassionate, supported and an informed approach to death.
Nicolette provides specialist non-medical care to those who are dying and offers emotional and practical support to the caregivers.
Nicolette is a qualified Social Worker and Art Therapist.