Great Southern Compassionate Communities

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Compassionate Communities is an international public health palliative approach whose aim is to engage broad community support for people approaching the end of their lives. The movement takes initiatives that encourage and enable the whole community to provide care and support to complement those given by health and social service providers.

The Great Southern Compassionate Communities project aims to make our community more knowledgeable about matters to do with death, dying and bereavement; and the care of those affected. Also, to improve access to a broader range of safe and good quality care that will result from this initiative.

A major task for the project will be to influence community attitudes about the end-of-life, and some of the practical issues (such as care) that arise. This will involve thinking and talking about things such as:-

  • Accepting that death, dying and loss are normal/natural
  • Thinking through future treatment and care needs
  • Making an Advance Care Plan to help family, friends, carers and health professionals understand how you would like to be cared for now and in the future.
  • What practical support might be needed to enable terminally ill people to die at home, and how to support family, friends and carers through periods of caring and eventual death.
  • Encouraging broader and shared community support during periods of caring and grief.

The target communities for the project over the two years are:

  • City of Albany (regional centre and major focus of the project initially)
  • Shire of Denmark
  • Shire of Plantagenet
  • Shire of Katanning


Compassionate Communities is an international public health palliative approach whose aim is to engage broad community support for people approaching the end of their lives. The movement takes initiatives that encourage and enable the whole community to provide care and support to complement those given by health and social service providers.

The Great Southern Compassionate Communities project aims to make our community more knowledgeable about matters to do with death, dying and bereavement; and the care of those affected. Also, to improve access to a broader range of safe and good quality care that will result from this initiative.

A major task for the project will be to influence community attitudes about the end-of-life, and some of the practical issues (such as care) that arise. This will involve thinking and talking about things such as:-

  • Accepting that death, dying and loss are normal/natural
  • Thinking through future treatment and care needs
  • Making an Advance Care Plan to help family, friends, carers and health professionals understand how you would like to be cared for now and in the future.
  • What practical support might be needed to enable terminally ill people to die at home, and how to support family, friends and carers through periods of caring and eventual death.
  • Encouraging broader and shared community support during periods of caring and grief.

The target communities for the project over the two years are:

  • City of Albany (regional centre and major focus of the project initially)
  • Shire of Denmark
  • Shire of Plantagenet
  • Shire of Katanning


  • In This Together – National Reconciliation Week 2020

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    6 days ago

    This year National Reconciliation Week overlaps with National Palliative Care Week.

    So, what does culturally appropriate palliative care look like?

    Cancer Council WA's Palliative and Supportive Care Education team has produced an educational video resource. The video is made for health professionals working with Aboriginal people, especially Aboriginal people originating from the West Kimberley region.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=173&v=gA9Tu2590OI&feature=emb_logo

    The video demonstrates the insights that can be learnt when we take the time to engage in meaningful two way dialogue and seek to truly understand and respect cultural perspectives. We really are in this together.

    This, and other helpful resources, can be can be accessed through the “Aboriginal People Resources” section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

    This year National Reconciliation Week overlaps with National Palliative Care Week.

    So, what does culturally appropriate palliative care look like?

    Cancer Council WA's Palliative and Supportive Care Education team has produced an educational video resource. The video is made for health professionals working with Aboriginal people, especially Aboriginal people originating from the West Kimberley region.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=173&v=gA9Tu2590OI&feature=emb_logo

    The video demonstrates the insights that can be learnt when we take the time to engage in meaningful two way dialogue and seek to truly understand and respect cultural perspectives. We really are in this together.

    This, and other helpful resources, can be can be accessed through the “Aboriginal People Resources” section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

  • Grieving the loss of a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic.

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    about 9 hours ago

    Coping with the death of a loved one is hard; coping with loss during the coronavirus pandemic brings another level of emotional and practical challenges.

    If you have lost someone to or during COVID-19:

    1.Remember that grief is a natural and ongoing response to loss. It can be more pronounced in uncertain times such as these. Try not to be afraid of any emotion you experience.

    2.Grieve your way. No-one can tell you how to feel.

    3.Stay connected. Seek support from people you trust through the use of phone and video calling technology.

    4.Say goodbye. Find quiet time to be alone and say goodbye to your loved one in your own way.

    5.Understand that a funeral during COVID-19 will be different. Try to focus on what you can control.

    6.Be prepared. There will be events and moments in future that will trigger your memories and sadness.

    7.Understand that you will heal. In time you will learn to live with your loss, heal and move forward in new and different ways.

    Guidance on how to deal with grief from Beyond Blue and other sources, can be accessed through the "Grief Resources" section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.


    Coping with the death of a loved one is hard; coping with loss during the coronavirus pandemic brings another level of emotional and practical challenges.

    If you have lost someone to or during COVID-19:

    1.Remember that grief is a natural and ongoing response to loss. It can be more pronounced in uncertain times such as these. Try not to be afraid of any emotion you experience.

    2.Grieve your way. No-one can tell you how to feel.

    3.Stay connected. Seek support from people you trust through the use of phone and video calling technology.

    4.Say goodbye. Find quiet time to be alone and say goodbye to your loved one in your own way.

    5.Understand that a funeral during COVID-19 will be different. Try to focus on what you can control.

    6.Be prepared. There will be events and moments in future that will trigger your memories and sadness.

    7.Understand that you will heal. In time you will learn to live with your loss, heal and move forward in new and different ways.

    Guidance on how to deal with grief from Beyond Blue and other sources, can be accessed through the "Grief Resources" section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.


  • Palliative Care… it’s more than you think

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    14 days ago

    Palliative Care… it’s more than you think

    When you hear the words “Palliative Care” do you think that it’s the type of care you receive only at the very end of life, when the medical system has given up hope? If so, you wouldn’t be the only one but it’s far from the truth.

    Palliative care can be available to people from the time they are first diagnosed with a life-limiting illness; and you can receive palliative care for a long time before your die, alongside other types of treatment.

    Palliative care can help people with life-limiting illnesses to live as well as possible, for as long as possible – supporting their physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.

    National Palliative Care Week, 24th - 30th May 2020, is an opportunity to better understand what palliative care can offer.

    A good starting point is taking a look at the Palliative Care WA FAQ sheet https://phexchange.wapha.org.au/37503/widgets/221661/documents/168739 or by attending the various Palliative Care WA community on-line “Understanding Palliative Care” forums being held on 26, 27 and 28 May.

    Details of these and other events can be found on the Great Southern Compassionate Communities site https://phexchange.wapha.org.au/great-southern-compassionate-communities

    Palliative Care… it’s more than you think

    When you hear the words “Palliative Care” do you think that it’s the type of care you receive only at the very end of life, when the medical system has given up hope? If so, you wouldn’t be the only one but it’s far from the truth.

    Palliative care can be available to people from the time they are first diagnosed with a life-limiting illness; and you can receive palliative care for a long time before your die, alongside other types of treatment.

    Palliative care can help people with life-limiting illnesses to live as well as possible, for as long as possible – supporting their physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.

    National Palliative Care Week, 24th - 30th May 2020, is an opportunity to better understand what palliative care can offer.

    A good starting point is taking a look at the Palliative Care WA FAQ sheet https://phexchange.wapha.org.au/37503/widgets/221661/documents/168739 or by attending the various Palliative Care WA community on-line “Understanding Palliative Care” forums being held on 26, 27 and 28 May.

    Details of these and other events can be found on the Great Southern Compassionate Communities site https://phexchange.wapha.org.au/great-southern-compassionate-communities

  • Compassionate responses to COVID-19 Challenges

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    20 days ago

    COVID-19 has presented the world with many challenges and is teaching us many lessons, not least being a greater awareness of the impact of isolation on people’s physical, emotional and mental health.

    There are however some wonderful examples of individuals, organisations and communities finding innovative ways to seek out, and reach out to, isolated people across all stages of life, illness, loneliness, dying, death and bereavement.

    One such example is the “Call and Check Service” that the City of Albany has recently launched as part of its #albanyallinthistogether campaign.

    Albany residents who would like someone to check in on them regularly can now register for the ‘Call and Check’ service through the City of Albany. The City is also hosting a daily check-in video call for all residents at the same time each day for those who want to connect with someone virtually. If residents wish to register themselves or someone they know to the Call and Check program or the daily video call, they can call 6820 3023 or email commdevel@albany.wa.gov.au.

    This is just one example of a Compassionate Community in action.

    The Great Southern Compassionate Community team would love to hear of other examples of individuals, groups or organisations who are reaching out to connect with and support isolated and vulnerable people.

    If you would like to share your stories please email Christine.Grogan@wapha.org.au



    COVID-19 has presented the world with many challenges and is teaching us many lessons, not least being a greater awareness of the impact of isolation on people’s physical, emotional and mental health.

    There are however some wonderful examples of individuals, organisations and communities finding innovative ways to seek out, and reach out to, isolated people across all stages of life, illness, loneliness, dying, death and bereavement.

    One such example is the “Call and Check Service” that the City of Albany has recently launched as part of its #albanyallinthistogether campaign.

    Albany residents who would like someone to check in on them regularly can now register for the ‘Call and Check’ service through the City of Albany. The City is also hosting a daily check-in video call for all residents at the same time each day for those who want to connect with someone virtually. If residents wish to register themselves or someone they know to the Call and Check program or the daily video call, they can call 6820 3023 or email commdevel@albany.wa.gov.au.

    This is just one example of a Compassionate Community in action.

    The Great Southern Compassionate Community team would love to hear of other examples of individuals, groups or organisations who are reaching out to connect with and support isolated and vulnerable people.

    If you would like to share your stories please email Christine.Grogan@wapha.org.au



  • Free Online Training for Substitute Decision Makers - Advanced Care Planning Australia

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    28 days ago
    Have you been asked to be a substitute decision maker for somebody as part of their Advance Care Plan? Perhaps you've been asked to be an Enduring Guardian or Medical Treatment Decision-Maker?

    Whether you are feeling privileged to be asked or daunted by the prospect (or even a little bit of both) there is support out there to help you decide whether to take on the role or not.

    Advanced Care Planning Australia has released a new free online resource to help you prepare for your role. The program can be accessed, anywhere, anytime on a computer, smart phone or tablet and takes only 30 minutes. There are no tests or exams, just helpful information and tips for people making treatment decisions for others.

    To register for the ‘Advance Care Planning for Substitute Decision- Makers’ program go to: https://learning.advancecareplanning.org.au/index.php

    Have you been asked to be a substitute decision maker for somebody as part of their Advance Care Plan? Perhaps you've been asked to be an Enduring Guardian or Medical Treatment Decision-Maker?

    Whether you are feeling privileged to be asked or daunted by the prospect (or even a little bit of both) there is support out there to help you decide whether to take on the role or not.

    Advanced Care Planning Australia has released a new free online resource to help you prepare for your role. The program can be accessed, anywhere, anytime on a computer, smart phone or tablet and takes only 30 minutes. There are no tests or exams, just helpful information and tips for people making treatment decisions for others.

    To register for the ‘Advance Care Planning for Substitute Decision- Makers’ program go to: https://learning.advancecareplanning.org.au/index.php

  • Free training for people caring for a very sick person at home

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    about 1 month ago

    Looking after a very ill person at home can be daunting, especially if you have not had prior health care experience. But help is now at hand.

    Busselton Hospice Care is now offering a free training program that is delivered by video conference covering practical things such as :-

    • pain management
    • dealing with nausea
    • how to support an ill person to move in bed, walking, sitting and toileting
    • avoiding carer burn out

    This free training, which is delivered over three webinars, is available for anyone who is caring for a very sick person at home, no matter where you live in WA.

    For more information or to book your place contact Busselton Hospice Care on 9751 1642.

    And don't forget if you are looking for other services and useful information you can check out the Carers Resources section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities.

    Looking after a very ill person at home can be daunting, especially if you have not had prior health care experience. But help is now at hand.

    Busselton Hospice Care is now offering a free training program that is delivered by video conference covering practical things such as :-

    • pain management
    • dealing with nausea
    • how to support an ill person to move in bed, walking, sitting and toileting
    • avoiding carer burn out

    This free training, which is delivered over three webinars, is available for anyone who is caring for a very sick person at home, no matter where you live in WA.

    For more information or to book your place contact Busselton Hospice Care on 9751 1642.

    And don't forget if you are looking for other services and useful information you can check out the Carers Resources section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities.

  • Staying in touch with loved ones in residential aged care... a few ideas

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    about 1 month ago

    There's been a lot of coverage in the media about aged care residential facilities and other similar organisations, such as hospices, going into lockdown in response to the risks to residents from COVID-19, and the inevitable anxiety that creates amongst residents, staff and families.

    Of course there are some wonderful stories of how many of our aged care facilities are doing their upmost to ensure social connections are maintained such as Clarence Estate's partnership with local primary schools through which children sent residents beautiful paintings and messages. What a delight that would have been for all involved!

    In response to a Facebook group member's call out for ideas of how she could stay connected with her elderly father who was in lockdown a really useful list of creative ideas were gathered into a handy resource which can be found on the Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

    Which of these could you do today?

    • Write a letter
    • Keep in touch through technology such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime etc
    • Keep in touch by voice eg phone calls, voice recordings
    • Keep in touch with special photos eg create an album of family photos
    • Send in a little care pack of special things
    • Make a scrapbook or memory box
    • Make a playlist of favourite songs
    • Play an on-line game together

    These are just a few of the ideas from the handy "Caring During Lockdown" resource which can be found in the "COVID-19 and Compassionate Communities" section of the toolkit.

    These are just a few of the many (often simple) ways that we can show compassion for those in our communities who are ageing and facing end of life.





    There's been a lot of coverage in the media about aged care residential facilities and other similar organisations, such as hospices, going into lockdown in response to the risks to residents from COVID-19, and the inevitable anxiety that creates amongst residents, staff and families.

    Of course there are some wonderful stories of how many of our aged care facilities are doing their upmost to ensure social connections are maintained such as Clarence Estate's partnership with local primary schools through which children sent residents beautiful paintings and messages. What a delight that would have been for all involved!

    In response to a Facebook group member's call out for ideas of how she could stay connected with her elderly father who was in lockdown a really useful list of creative ideas were gathered into a handy resource which can be found on the Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

    Which of these could you do today?

    • Write a letter
    • Keep in touch through technology such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime etc
    • Keep in touch by voice eg phone calls, voice recordings
    • Keep in touch with special photos eg create an album of family photos
    • Send in a little care pack of special things
    • Make a scrapbook or memory box
    • Make a playlist of favourite songs
    • Play an on-line game together

    These are just a few of the ideas from the handy "Caring During Lockdown" resource which can be found in the "COVID-19 and Compassionate Communities" section of the toolkit.

    These are just a few of the many (often simple) ways that we can show compassion for those in our communities who are ageing and facing end of life.





  • How can we help?

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    about 2 months ago


    Caring for somebody at their end of life is challenging at the best of times but add in the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic and it would be easy for people to feel completely overwhelmed and very anxious. Even if our loved ones are being cared for in beautifully-run aged-care facilities or hospices the visiting restrictions, while necessary, are impacting on the precious time we have left with them.

    So what can we do to support people who are either facing their own end of life, or who are caring for or worried about, others that are ill?

    Despite social distancing we can still offer emotional and practical support. We can choose to focus on what we can do, not can't do. We can still be a compassionate community.

    We can stay connected - pick up the phone, send a text, write a letter, get used to the wonders of video calls or even just take the time to chat over the fence. Simple, kind and respectful human contact can make a world of difference to people during times of illness, death and grief.

    We can offer practical support - we can offer to organise groceries, do a bit of gardening or maybe walk their dog. As long as we are healthy and we observe the social distancing rules we can still provide practical support.

    We can seek out other support on others' behalf - There are heaps of on-line resources popping up to support people during this pandemic and just doing the research on what's on offer can be overwhelming, particularly if you are already weary and anxious. So if you can take the time to check out, and help others to access, relevant support you will be doing a great act of service. Support and other options for staying connected are being offered by many local organisations (eg Councils, faith groups and community groups) and indeed state or national organisations (such as the Carers Gateway telephone support services or access to theatre productions, art collections, audio books etc).

    We will continue to update the Great Southern Compassionate Communities toolkit with helpful information and resources.

    We are all in this together.


    Caring for somebody at their end of life is challenging at the best of times but add in the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic and it would be easy for people to feel completely overwhelmed and very anxious. Even if our loved ones are being cared for in beautifully-run aged-care facilities or hospices the visiting restrictions, while necessary, are impacting on the precious time we have left with them.

    So what can we do to support people who are either facing their own end of life, or who are caring for or worried about, others that are ill?

    Despite social distancing we can still offer emotional and practical support. We can choose to focus on what we can do, not can't do. We can still be a compassionate community.

    We can stay connected - pick up the phone, send a text, write a letter, get used to the wonders of video calls or even just take the time to chat over the fence. Simple, kind and respectful human contact can make a world of difference to people during times of illness, death and grief.

    We can offer practical support - we can offer to organise groceries, do a bit of gardening or maybe walk their dog. As long as we are healthy and we observe the social distancing rules we can still provide practical support.

    We can seek out other support on others' behalf - There are heaps of on-line resources popping up to support people during this pandemic and just doing the research on what's on offer can be overwhelming, particularly if you are already weary and anxious. So if you can take the time to check out, and help others to access, relevant support you will be doing a great act of service. Support and other options for staying connected are being offered by many local organisations (eg Councils, faith groups and community groups) and indeed state or national organisations (such as the Carers Gateway telephone support services or access to theatre productions, art collections, audio books etc).

    We will continue to update the Great Southern Compassionate Communities toolkit with helpful information and resources.

    We are all in this together.

  • Compassionate Communities in the time of COVID-19

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    2 months ago

    If there was ever a time for a community to be compassionate its now. The COVID-19 pandemic is of course serious and worrying but it is also an opportunity for us all to find creative ways to look after ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our communities.

    Yes we MUST observe the physical distancing rules

    Yes we MUST wash our hands – regularly and thoroughly

    Yes we MUST respect the measures being put in place to protect the community and the health system

    Yes we MUST seek out, and stay up to date with, reliable sources of information (Refer to “COVID-19” links listed in the Compassionate Communities Toolbox)

    It is wonderful to hear of the many innovative ways local communities are stepping up to the challenge to show their compassion for people that are isolated, ill or caring for others that are ill, and for people who are grieving. One thing is for sure - people are grieving in so many ways now (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief).

    Technology is proving to be hugely beneficial – not just allowing people to work from home or to order goods and services on-line but its also allowing people to keep in touch with others. There are numerous stories of people using various platforms to keep in touch with their parents, grandkids, siblings, friends, book clubs, sporting groups, neighbours and the list goes on. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t replace a hug, but it helps enormously to keep people sociably connected.

    There are also numerous ways that we can support the most isolated and vulnerable in our community, even those that are not digitally connected. We can follow the lead of organisations such as the City of Albany which is publishing “How Can I Help” cards in local newspapers that can be cut out and placed in neighbours’ mailboxes. Another option is we can donate to organisations such as Foodbanks and other reputable organisations that are working hard to make sure that people who are doing it tough get the basics of life.

    So, while we face this COVID-19 pandemic situation let’s remember to be a Compassionate Community.

    Community is everyone’s business, End of Life is everyone’s business and Grief Support is everyone’s business. We are in this together.

    If there was ever a time for a community to be compassionate its now. The COVID-19 pandemic is of course serious and worrying but it is also an opportunity for us all to find creative ways to look after ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our communities.

    Yes we MUST observe the physical distancing rules

    Yes we MUST wash our hands – regularly and thoroughly

    Yes we MUST respect the measures being put in place to protect the community and the health system

    Yes we MUST seek out, and stay up to date with, reliable sources of information (Refer to “COVID-19” links listed in the Compassionate Communities Toolbox)

    It is wonderful to hear of the many innovative ways local communities are stepping up to the challenge to show their compassion for people that are isolated, ill or caring for others that are ill, and for people who are grieving. One thing is for sure - people are grieving in so many ways now (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief).

    Technology is proving to be hugely beneficial – not just allowing people to work from home or to order goods and services on-line but its also allowing people to keep in touch with others. There are numerous stories of people using various platforms to keep in touch with their parents, grandkids, siblings, friends, book clubs, sporting groups, neighbours and the list goes on. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t replace a hug, but it helps enormously to keep people sociably connected.

    There are also numerous ways that we can support the most isolated and vulnerable in our community, even those that are not digitally connected. We can follow the lead of organisations such as the City of Albany which is publishing “How Can I Help” cards in local newspapers that can be cut out and placed in neighbours’ mailboxes. Another option is we can donate to organisations such as Foodbanks and other reputable organisations that are working hard to make sure that people who are doing it tough get the basics of life.

    So, while we face this COVID-19 pandemic situation let’s remember to be a Compassionate Community.

    Community is everyone’s business, End of Life is everyone’s business and Grief Support is everyone’s business. We are in this together.

  • Helping older people to live well at the end of life - Aged Care Standard 4

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    3 months ago

    Are you a health care professional that wants to help older people live well, even as they approach the end of their lives?

    Aged Care Standard 4 highlights the importance of providing services and support that can help older people manage their daily lives and achieve their goals, including at the end of life. PalliAGED offers some really helpful resources to help health care professionals and others to find ways to support people to live well even while approaching death.

    You can access a number of very practical palliAGED resources through the Heath Professionals and Service Providers Resources section of this Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.


    Are you a health care professional that wants to help older people live well, even as they approach the end of their lives?

    Aged Care Standard 4 highlights the importance of providing services and support that can help older people manage their daily lives and achieve their goals, including at the end of life. PalliAGED offers some really helpful resources to help health care professionals and others to find ways to support people to live well even while approaching death.

    You can access a number of very practical palliAGED resources through the Heath Professionals and Service Providers Resources section of this Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.