a. Decisions, dying and death with dementia
What is new or innovative about your approach?
This presentation is a first-hand experience of supporting someone who has aged, with a diagnosis of dementia living and dying in an aged care facility. The use of story, images and the soundtrack of my father’s life, provides a powerful insight into what it is like to care for someone as they die as a result of dementia. The presentation advocates there’s much more to dying than having an advance care plan and deciding not to treat is not for the faint of heart. It also promotes other ways of caring for and acknowledging death in an aged care facility as opposed to hiding behind closed doors or curtains of silence. It speaks of not rushing to get the body out and the grace and care of the staff. It acknowledges the impact of poor palliative care in aged care.
How does this integrate the current discourse in PHPC/Compassionate Communities?
Advocating for the aged and vulnerable and supporting those in the community to make informed decisions about their care and how they die. Encouraging conversations around care planning and decisions making as well as promoting holistic end of life care.
How will your artistic practice expand the discourse between arts and health?
If we are to truly support the vulnerable, aged dying we must be willing to take risks ourselves. Being informed of what dying and caring for the dead entails in aged care, but accentuating the life too in aged care. The more people are aware of what may come, the more they may be able to open up discussions with their families and their health care providers and challenge the status quo. It will reflect the need for palliative care in aged care. We are far more than KPIs.
b. The last waltz
This presentation with be a collection of scenes from the play with expository narration, to give the attendants a taste of this exploration of issues around Advance Care Planning, death and dying, and family dynamics in this space.
Vera, hooked up to machines in an ICU, steps “outside” of her body to chat directly to the audience. Her family surrounds her, but she is unable to communicate. She reminisces with the audience about her life, her family, and her expressed wish that she be allowed to die at home. After falling ill, she was brought to hospital, and there she has stayed; caught between living and dying. Her daughter in law, Elizabeth, takes to the stage to reflect on her relationship with Vera over the past 20 years, and comes to the decision to honour Vera’s wishes. Has she left it too late?