AN initiative to reduce the number of older people in residential aged care dying alone has launched in Perth.
Amana Living has created the No One Dies Alone Companion project, which will see the organisation recruit 12 volunteers for a pilot.
The project will start at Lady McCusker Home in Duncraig where about 10 per cent of residents died alone or with little family support in the past six months.
Volunteers will be part of a team whose role will include being present with the resident at the end of their life, having conversations, holding their hand, reading aloud from favourite books, and providing a calming environment through music and lighting.
A vigil will start when the resident becomes terminal and each volunteer will take part in a four-hour vigil shift until the resident passes away.
The project is modelled on the No One Dies Alone program at the Assisi Hospice in Singapore and draws on the experience of the hospice unit at Busselton Health Campus.
“We look after the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our residents from the moment they join us to the time they leave,” Amana Living chief executive Stephanie Buckland said.
“This involves providing critical support and comfort to them as they reach the end of their life.
“Sadly, some of our residents don’t have relatives or friends who can spend time with them in their final days.
“They might be estranged from their family or have outlived them, or the family doesn’t live nearby.
“The No One Dies Alone Companion volunteers will provide compassionate support and human connection to our residents in their last moments on Earth.”
Recruitment for volunteers will start this month Dec, with training to start in February and the role starting at the end of March or early April.
The project will identify residents at Lady McCusker Home who want to take part in the project through conversations with them about their end of life wishes.
Ideally this will happen when residents first move into the care centre to allow time for the companions to form a relationship and bond with the residents.
Volunteers will be supported by a dedicated coordinator and the chaplaincy services team and have access to confidential counselling.
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