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National Palliative Care Week

This week is National Palliative Care Week and today, David van Leen, Mission Manager at Bethanie shares his insights into his family’s experience with palliative care, highlighting that each journey is unique and different.

“Many people know that I did something really stupid on my honeymoon – I talked to my bride about my death – how I wanted to die. Thankfully she still hasn’t killed me! But our discussion ensured that we both know what we want when it comes to our palliative care and ultimately the process of our death.

When you hear the words palliative care, what do you think? Our experiences and connections will often influence our thoughts around this topic. I know my feelings around palliative care have been influenced by my family’s palliative care journeys, as well as those people I have had the privilege of journeying with in their final stages of Earthly life.

My four grandparents each had a different palliative journey. One grandfather had an extended palliative journey in hospital, while the other was at home having family and professional support to care for him. One grandmother had a long-term palliative journey in a nursing home, while the other had pneumonia, resulting in short term hostel then hospice care.

My family’s experience with palliative care highlights to me that each journey is unique and different. For me however, the important thing is the care that is being given. While the care should be tailored to the individual, I would say the care needs to be holistic.

When I talk about holistic care, I mean not only looking after physical needs, but emotional, social, cultural and spiritual needs too. For some people, it’s important to reach a particular milestone or goal, while for others, it’s about feeling the ocean spray from the wave at a beach or basking in the warmth of the sun. For some it can be about connecting with people, culture, religious practices or events, while for others, it’s about the comfort of familiar surroundings.

I am thankful that Bethanie helps to support the holistic approach to palliative care.”

David van Leen
Mission Manager/Coordinator of Chaplains

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