Palliative care: ‘I think there are a lot of people too frightened to think about the fact that life is finite’

The local community and health professionals are being encouraged to attend a end of life care forum. Photo credit: Palliative Care NSW

It is something many of us rarely think about or push to one side until it is thrust upon us.

The end of life is never an easy topic to discuss.

However, an upcoming forum in Western Sydney hopes to break down the barriers preventing people from talking about this important issue.

 “I think there is a lot of mystification about what palliative care and end of life care are,” Dr Sally Greenaway, Director of Supportive and Palliative Medicine across the Western Sydney Local Health District, told The Pulse.

“I think there are a lot of people too frightened to think about the fact that life is finite and feel that if they ignore it, it will all go away.”

The Mount Druitt Supportive and Palliative Care Unit will host a free forum about end of life care, on Wednesday, October 17th, at Blacktown Workers Club, from 6pm.

The local community and health professionals are encouraged to attend.

Dr Greenaway will join a panel discussion, which will encourage questions from the floor.

“If we’re aware about what our options are then we’ve always got choice, to some extent have some control about the last phase of our lives, which can really focus on living well and inform how we die, and make sure that we die well,” Dr Greenaway said.

“Now that can only happen if we are engaged in thinking about how our values, and the health services available and the community resources available, align.”

The forum will discuss how the Supportive and Palliative Care team can work with families to help people live as well as possible and manage the challenge of a life-limiting illness and, eventually, have the best possible end of life care.  

Dr Philip Lee, an experienced professional in the palliative care space, along with several other experts, will host the informative panel discussion. 

Caroline Raunjak, a health consumer, will share her personal journey of caring for her husband during his terminal illness.

The panel will also include Dr Sharon Muir from the Riverstone Medical Family Practice and Ms Linda Hansen from Palliative Care NSW.

“So it’s good to have a think about what is important to us if time were short, and this sort of forum allows that sort of questioning and busting of myths, and asking things you’re too scared to ask about otherwise, in a fairly safe way,” Dr Greenaway said.

Discussion will also focus on palliative care and end of life care in the home, a palliative care unit, in aged care facilities or in an acute hospital.

Dr Greenaway would like people to understand what is available for them if they have a life-limiting illness and what services are available to help them to live well.

“If people know what’s important to them and what matters most, it really helps the team and the carers around them try and provide that, but you’ve got to think about it before you get there,” she said.

The forum will be an opportunity for an exchange of experiences and information.

“People are frightened to ask questions, which means we are all pretty unprepared when someone we love is very sick, and approaching the end of their life, or when we are ourselves,” Dr Greenaway said.

The forum will be an invaluable opportunity for families and carers.

“And time is short, when it comes to dying, how they can make sure they or the person they love can have a death that’s a time of comfort and dignity and not chaos.”

RSVP by Friday 12th October by calling 0429 413 194, or emailing