Remember the Children - Palliative Care Conference
23 August 2012 at 4:23 pm
Children who don’t receive emotional support following the death of a loved one are at greater risk of problems later in life, according to UK palliative care expert Baroness, Professor Ilora Finlay.
Speaking on the first day of the Palliative Care Victoria (PCV) Conference in Melbourne, Professor Finlay called for a stronger professional focus on children in times of bereavement.
“Funding for child grievance services is a drop in the ocean particularly when we consider the impact on the child as an adult,” she said.
“If children are not supported during a time of grief there is a higher risk of problems including drug addiction and teenage pregnancy.
“If we invest in supporting these children through our health services, schools, wherever that support can best reach them, it is an investment in the future.
“For every one million school age children, 7000 will be bereaved of a parent or sibling, and 13,000 will have lost someone close to them.
“Memory of death lives on and alters our life chances.”
The Professor, who is also an independent member of the House of Lords, is regularly on call at weekends to attend terminally ill patients.
She told the audience of more than 300 health care professionals and volunteers that a broader understanding of palliative care was essential.
“We are not a death service. People do better if they have access to palliative care early.
“People facing the close of their lives fear what lies ahead, often fearing things that just won’t happen. They need to feel confident that they will not be abandoned, but will be supported to live as fully as possible in whatever time is left as their horizons are changed by disease.“
Leading international and Australian experts are in Melbourne this week addressing the Palliative Care Victoria (PCV) Conference in the lead up to the release of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee’s report on palliative care.
The Senate’s inquiry has heard evidence from individuals, organisations and health professionals on the significance of palliative care and its ability to provide care and support.