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WEL 304 Jansen Newman Institute Death and Dying Social Science Paper

WEL 304 Jansen Newman Institute Death and Dying Social Science Paper


Title: Meeting the Cultural and Spiritual Needs of People at the End Stage of Life: A Case Study on Palliative Care in Multicultural Australia

Abstract: This case study examines the social issue of meeting the cultural and spiritual needs of people at the end stage of life in multicultural societies, with a focus on Australia. It explores the background of the issue, its importance in multicultural societies, the rights of the person passing away in terms of policy and legal frameworks, and the skills and knowledge required by professionals to provide holistic palliative care. Drawing from international research and practice, recommendations are made to improve the palliative care journey for individuals in their end stage and their loved ones.

1. Introduction:

Palliative care is an essential aspect of end-of-life care, aiming to provide comfort, dignity, and support to individuals facing life-limiting illnesses. In multicultural societies like Australia, where diversity in culture, religion, and spirituality is celebrated, addressing the cultural and spiritual needs of individuals at the end stage of life is of paramount importance. This case study delves into this social issue, highlighting its background, significance, legal frameworks, and the requisite skills and knowledge for healthcare professionals. Additionally, it presents recommendations to enhance the palliative care journey for patients and their loved ones.

2. Background:

2.1 Cultural and Spiritual Diversity in Australia: Australia is characterized by its cultural and religious diversity, with people from various backgrounds residing in the country. This diversity includes Indigenous Australians, immigrants, refugees, and individuals from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. This rich tapestry of cultures and belief systems makes it imperative to provide culturally sensitive and spiritually attuned end-of-life care.

2.2 Palliative Care and Cultural Competence: Palliative care seeks to provide relief from suffering and improve the quality of life for patients with life-threatening illnesses. Cultural competence in palliative care is essential to ensure that care is tailored to the individual’s values, beliefs, and preferences, as these factors significantly impact the end-of-life experience.

3. Importance in Multicultural Societies:

The importance of addressing cultural and spiritual needs in palliative care in multicultural societies like Australia is multifaceted:

3.1. Preserving Dignity and Autonomy: Individuals at the end stage of life should be able to make choices that align with their cultural and spiritual beliefs, preserving their dignity and autonomy.

3.2. Alleviating Suffering: Cultural and spiritual practices can play a significant role in providing comfort and alleviating suffering for both the patient and their family.

3.3. Reducing Health Disparities: Failing to meet cultural and spiritual needs can lead to health disparities, as individuals from certain cultural backgrounds may avoid or delay seeking palliative care due to perceived insensitivity.

4. Rights of the Person Passing:

4.1. Legal Frameworks: Australia has a robust legal framework that recognizes an individual’s right to make decisions about their healthcare, including end-of-life care. This includes Advance Care Directives, which allow individuals to outline their treatment preferences and appoint a substitute decision-maker.

4.2. Cultural and Spiritual Rights: In addition to legal rights, individuals have the cultural and spiritual right to receive care that respects their beliefs and practices, as enshrined in international human rights agreements.

5. Skills and Knowledge for Professionals:

5.1. Cultural Competence: Healthcare professionals must undergo cultural competence training to understand and respect the diverse needs of their patients. This includes knowledge of cultural customs, rituals, dietary preferences, and communication styles.

5.2. Spiritual Care: Training in spiritual care is equally vital, as it enables professionals to provide emotional and spiritual support in accordance with the patient’s beliefs.

5.3. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Palliative care teams should include diverse professionals, such as social workers, spiritual care providers, and interpreters, to ensure holistic care.

6. Recommendations:

6.1. Cultural and Spiritual Assessment: Implement a standardized cultural and spiritual assessment tool to identify patients’ needs accurately.

6.2. Education and Training: Develop and mandate cultural competence and spiritual care training for all healthcare professionals.

6.3. Interpreters and Cultural Liaisons: Ensure access to interpreters and cultural liaisons to facilitate communication and understanding.

6.4. Multidisciplinary Teams: Promote interdisciplinary collaboration within palliative care teams to provide comprehensive support.

6.5. Research and Evaluation: Support research into the cultural and spiritual aspects of palliative care to continually improve practices.

7. Conclusion:

Meeting the cultural and spiritual needs of individuals at the end stage of life is essential in multicultural societies like Australia. It is not only a matter of respecting human rights but also a means to provide compassionate, effective, and patient-centered palliative care. By implementing the recommendations outlined in this case study, healthcare systems can significantly enhance the palliative care journey for those nearing the end of life and their loved ones, irrespective of their cultural or spiritual backgrounds.

WEL 304 Jansen Newman Institute Death and Dying Social Science Paper





Write a case study on one of the following social issues related to death and dying: ‐ A good death vs. a bad death ‐ Meeting the cultural and spiritual needs of people who are at their end stage of life ‐ The medicalisation approach to death, dying and grief and how it impacts on people ‐ The ethical complexities in patient centred approaches to death and dying In your case study, discuss the background to the social issue; explain why this issue is important in multicultural societies such as Australia; discuss the rights of the person who is passing in terms of the policy and legal frameworks involved and the holistic range of skills and knowledge required by professionals to ease the journey of the person and their loved ones. Drawing on wider international research and practice in this area, make recommendations for how the palliative care journey can be improved for those who are in their end stage and their loved ones.

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