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What happens if you want access to voluntary assisted dying but your nursing home won’t let you?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neera-bhatia-15189">Neera Bhatia</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-corke-167297">Charles Corke</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Voluntary assisted dying is now lawful in <a href="https://theconversation.com/voluntary-assisted-dying-will-soon-be-legal-in-all-states-heres-whats-just-happened-in-nsw-and-what-it-means-for-you-183355">all Australian states</a>. There is also <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/VAD-Report-correct-month-12.8.21.pdf">widespread community support</a> for it.</p> <p>Yet some residential institutions, such as hospices and aged-care facilities, are obstructing access despite the law not specifying whether they have the legal right to do so.</p> <p>As voluntary assisted dying is implemented across the country, institutions blocking access to it will likely become more of an issue.</p> <p>So addressing this will help everyone – institutions, staff, families and, most importantly, people dying in institutions who wish to have control of their end.</p> <h2>The many ways to block access</h2> <p>While voluntary assisted dying legislation recognises the right of doctors to <a href="https://theconversation.com/was-take-on-assisted-dying-has-many-similarities-with-the-victorian-law-and-some-important-differences-121554">conscientiously object</a> to it, the law is generally silent on the rights of institutions to do so.</p> <p>While the institution where someone lives has no legislated role in voluntary assisted dying, it can refuse access in various ways, including:</p> <ul> <li> <p>restricting staff responding to a discussion a resident initiates about voluntary assisted dying</p> </li> <li> <p>refusing access to health professionals to facilitate it, and</p> </li> <li> <p>requiring people who wish to pursue the option to leave the facility.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Here’s what happened to ‘Mary’</h2> <p>Here is a hypothetical example based on cases one of us (Charles Corke) has learned of via his role at Victoria’s <a href="https://www.safercare.vic.gov.au/about/vadrb">Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board</a>.</p> <p>We have chosen to combine several different cases into one, to respect the confidentiality of the individuals and organisations involved.</p> <p>“Mary” was a 72-year-old widow who moved into a private aged-care facility when she could no longer manage independently in her own home due to advanced lung disease.</p> <p>While her intellect remained intact, she accepted she had reached a stage at which she needed significant assistance. She appreciated the help she received. She liked the staff and they liked her.</p> <p>After a year in the facility, during which time her lung disease got much worse, Mary decided she wanted access to voluntary assisted dying. Her children were supportive, particularly as this desire was consistent with Mary’s longstanding views.</p> <p>Mary was open about her wish with the nursing home staff she felt were her friends.</p> <p>The executive management of the nursing home heard of her intentions. This resulted in a visit at which Mary was told, in no uncertain terms, her wish to access voluntary assisted dying would not be allowed. She would be required to move out, unless she agreed to change her mind.</p> <p>Mary was upset. Her family was furious. She really didn’t want to move, but really wanted to continue with voluntary assisted dying “in her current home” (as she saw it).</p> <p>Mary decided to continue with her wish. Her family took her to see two doctors registered to provide assessments for voluntary assisted dying, who didn’t work at the facility. Mary was deemed eligible and the permit was granted. Two pharmacists visited Mary at the nursing home, gave her the medication and instructed her how to mix it and take it.</p> <p>These actions required no active participation from the nursing home or its staff.</p> <p>Family and friends arranged to visit at the time Mary indicated she planned to take the medication. She died peacefully, on her own terms, as she wished. The family informed the nursing home staff their mother had died. Neither family nor staff mentioned voluntary assisted dying.</p> <h2>Staff are in a difficult position too</h2> <p>There is widespread community support for voluntary assisted dying. In a 2021 survey by National Seniors Australia, <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/VAD-Report-correct-month-12.8.21.pdf">more than 85%</a> of seniors agreed it should be available.</p> <p>So it’s likely there will be staff who are supportive in most institutions. For instance, in a survey of attitudes to voluntary assisted dying in a large public tertiary hospital, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/imj.15285">88% of staff</a> supported it becoming lawful.</p> <p>So a blanket policy to refuse dying patients access to voluntary assisted dying is likely to place staff in a difficult position. An institution risks creating a toxic workplace culture, in which clandestine communication and fear become entrenched.</p> <h2>What could we do better?</h2> <p><strong>1. Institutions need to be up-front about their policies</strong></p> <p>Institutions need to be completely open about their policies on voluntary assisted dying and whether they would obstruct any such request in the future. This is so patients and families can factor this into deciding on an institution in the first place.</p> <p><strong>2. Institutions need to consult their stakeholders</strong></p> <p>Institutions should consult their stakeholders about their policy with a view to creating a “<a href="https://bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12904-021-00891-3">safe</a>” environment for residents and staff – for those who want access to voluntary assisted dying or who wish to support it, and for those who don’t want it and find it confronting.</p> <p><strong>3. Laws need to change</strong></p> <p>Future legislation should define the extent of an institution’s right to obstruct a resident’s right to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>There should be safeguards in all states (as is already legislated <a href="https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/tp/2021/5721T707.pdf">in Queensland</a>), including the ability for individuals to be referred in sufficient time to another institution, should they wish to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>Other states should consider whether it is reasonable to permit a resident, who does not wish to move, to be able to stay and proceed with their wish, without direct involvement of the institution.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/183364/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neera-bhatia-15189">Neera Bhatia</a>, Associate Professor in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-corke-167297">Charles Corke</a>, Associate Professor of Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-happens-if-you-want-access-to-voluntary-assisted-dying-but-your-nursing-home-wont-let-you-183364">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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Hospice nurse reveals six unexplainable "death bed phenomena"

<p>Hospice nurse Julie McFadden has lifted the lid on six unexplainable "death bed phenomena" that occur within a person's last weeks of life. </p> <p>The LA-based nurse, who specialises in end of life care, explained that as a person nears the end of their life, they will experience a range of unusual things, including hallucinations, random bursts of energy and even choosing when they're going to die. </p> <p>McFadden once again took to her YouTube channel to educate people on what happens when you're on your death bed, detailing each of the six strange occurrences. </p> <p>Julie explained that patients often experienced "terminal lucidity", "hallucinations", "death stares", and more in their final weeks. </p> <p>She began by explaining the first wild thing that happened at the end of life was terminal lucidity, in which people get a "burst of energy" in the days before they die, sharing that it happens "very often". </p> <p>She said, "Just enjoy it and expect that maybe they will die soon after because that's the kicker with terminal lucidity, it looks like someone's going to die very soon then suddenly they have a burst of energy."</p> <p>"They maybe have a really great day, they're suddenly hungry, they're suddenly able to walk, they're suddenly very alert and oriented, and then shortly after usually a day or two they will die, so that can be the hard part if you're not ready for it, if you don't know what's coming you can think they're getting better and then they die, which can be very devastating."</p> <p>Julie then described how most people in their final days will encounter "death visioning" or "hallucinations", as many people describe seeing the ghosts of loved ones in their final days. </p> <p>"I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it for myself over and over again," the nurse admitted. </p> <p>"Number three, this is really crazy - people choosing when they're going to die. I have seen some extreme cases of this, people just saying, 'Tonight's when I'm going to die I know it, I can feel it,' and they do. There's also a time when people will wait for everybody to get into town or get into the room arrive at the house whatever it is and then they will die," the nurse explained. </p> <p>The fourth phenomena is known as the "death reach", according to Julie.  </p> <p>She explained, "It's when the person's lying in bed and they reach up in the air like they're seeing someone or they're reaching for someone either to hug them or to shake their hands. A lot of times they'll hold their hands up for a long time, like they're seeing something that we're not seeing and they're reaching for someone that we can't see."</p> <p>Julie then listed "number five is the death stare," explaining that the death stare and the death reach often "go together". </p> <p>"It usually looks like someone is staring off into the corner of the room or the side of the room basically looking at something intently, but if you're snapping your finger in front of their face or trying to say their name to kind of snap them out of it, they won't," she said.</p> <p>The last wild thing the nurse has seen is known as a "shared death experience" and is "most impactful", according to Julie. </p> <p>She explained, "A shared death experience is when someone who is not dying feels or sees or understands what's happening to the person who is dying."</p> <p>"It's kind of like the dying person gives you the sensation of what they're going through. From what I experienced, it was a very good feeling. It was like the person was giving me these feelings of freedom and joy and kind of telling me that they were okay."</p> <p>"At the time, I was shocked, I didn't know what was happening, but I've come to find out that that's called a shared death experience."</p> <p><em>Image credits: YouTube / Instagram </em></p>

Caring

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Hospice nurse explains why we shouldn't be afraid to die

<p>A hospice nurse has shared why we shouldn't be afraid to die, explaining all the ways in which our bodies "shut off" to make for a "peaceful" death. </p> <p>Julie McFadden, a nurse based in Los Angeles, has long been sharing videos and explanations about end of life care in an attempt to destigmatise the conversations and fear around death and dying. </p> <p>In her latest YouTube video, McFadden got candid with her followers as she confessed she isn't afraid to die and why no one else should be either.</p> <p>She went on to explain all the ways in which our bodies are supposed to "shut off" in our final moments, making for a "peaceful" and "natural" death. "</p> <p>"I'm not afraid of death and here's the science behind it, our body biologically helps us die, so here is what I've seen and learned as a hospice nurse over the years - our body is literally built to die," she said.</p> <p>The hospice nurse revealed that bodies began to slowly shut down in the six months leading up to death, explaining that a person nearing the end of their life would start "eating less, drinking less, and sleeping more."</p> <p>"Why is that happening? Because calcium levels in the body are going up and because calcium levels are going up the person is getting sleepier," Julie said.</p> <p>"Our brains have built in mechanisms to make us hungry and thirsty. Biologically, when the body knows it's getting towards the end of life those mechanisms shut off, so the person does not usually feel hungry and does not usually feel thirsty, which is helping the body slowly shut down."</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CJEkzA0gt6s?si=CIzcf3xchddKtf1D" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>She put minds at ease by debunking a common concern, saying that while certain diseases could make death more uncomfortable, dying in itself wasn't painful. </p> <p>"There are times when the disease that the person is experiencing can cause symptoms and it's more difficult because they're dying from a certain disease, but the actual process that the body is going through to help it die is actually helping that person," Julie added.</p> <p>"There have been many times as a hospice nurse that I have watched someone slowly die on hospice and I have not needed to give them any medication because their disease was not causing any symptoms - no pain, no shortness of breath, they were just more tired and weren't eating or drinking." </p> <p>"They still did all of the things any other person on hospice would be doing, like they slowly go unconscious, they slowly stop eating and drinking. I didn't have to give them any medications. They were perfectly comfortable and died a very peaceful death."</p> <p>Julie explained that death was even "comforting" in a way because when you're about to take your last breath, your body released endorphins, making you feel euphoric in your final moments.</p> <p>"The body slowly goes into something called ketosis, which releases endorphins. In that person's body those endorphins dull pain, dull nerves, and they also give that person a euphoric sense, so they feel good," she said.</p> <p>"There are many reasons why I don't fear death. Yes, I have had some pretty crazy spiritual experiences as a hospice nurse that led me to not fear death, but there are also biological, metabolical, and physiological things that happen in the body that truly, truly comforted me."</p> <p>She concluded, "Our bodies are built to die. The less we mess with that, the more peaceful it will be."</p> <p><em>Image credits: YouTube / Instagram </em></p>

Caring

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Life behind bars for serial killer nurse

<p>British nurse Lucy Letby has been handed a life sentence for the murder of seven infants and the attempted murder of six others in a neonatal ward located in Chester, England.</p> <p>Justice James Goss, adhering to the strictest punishment allowed by British law, issued a whole-life order, ensuring that 33-year-old Letby would spend the remainder of her life incarcerated, as capital punishment is not applicable in the UK.</p> <p>In a trial that spanned ten months, Letby was found guilty of killing five male and two female infants and causing harm to other newborns within the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016. This conviction ranks her among the most prolific child serial killers in the UK's history.</p> <p>Despite her absence from the sentencing proceedings, Justice Goss emphasised the calculated nature of Letby's actions, stating, "There was premeditation, calculation and cunning." He further highlighted the malevolence and absence of remorse in her demeanour, emphasising that no mitigating factors were present.</p> <p>Prosecutors detailed Letby's disturbing actions during her tenure in the neonatal unit. As the hospital witnessed an alarming increase in unexplained infant deaths and health deteriorations, Letby was consistently on duty during these incidents.</p> <p>Prosecutors painted her as a constant, ominous presence when these infants experienced collapses or fatalities, using tactics that were difficult to detect. She even deceived colleagues into believing these incidents were normal.</p> <p>The anguish and outrage from the victims' families were palpable during the sentencing, compounded by Letby's absence from the proceedings, which is permitted under British legal protocol.</p> <p>The mother of a girl identified as Child I said in a statement read in court:</p> <p>"I don’t think we will ever get over the fact that our daughter was tortured till she had no fight left in her and everything she went through over her short life was deliberately done by someone who was supposed to protect her and help her come home where she belonged."</p> <p>Because of Letby's absence at the sentencing, calls for legal reform quickly emerged, urging that prisoners should be compelled to attend their sentencings. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his government's intention to address this matter.</p> <p>Medical professionals raised concerns about Letby's behaviour as early as 2015, but their apprehensions were not heeded by management. Some argue that had these concerns been acted upon promptly, lives could have been saved. An independent inquiry will delve into the hospital's response to the alarming rise in deaths and the actions of the staff and management.</p> <p>In conclusion, British nurse Lucy Letby's life sentence for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others has sent shockwaves through the nation. Her calculated actions, lack of remorse, and absence from the sentencing have ignited discussions about legal reforms and the responsibility of institutions to heed early warning signs.</p> <p><em>Images: Cheshire Constabulary</em></p>

Legal

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Lump sum, daily payments or a combination? What to consider when paying for nursing home accommodation

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anam-bilgrami-1179543">Anam Bilgrami</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>Moving yourself or a loved one to a nursing home can be <a href="https://theconversation.com/should-we-move-our-loved-one-with-dementia-into-a-nursing-home-6-things-to-consider-when-making-this-tough-decision-189770">emotional and difficult</a>. While some have their nursing home accommodation costs fully covered by the government (based on a <a href="https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/how-much-will-i-pay">means test</a>), most will have to pay their own way.</p> <p>The average lump sum room value is <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021/08/ninth-report-on-the-funding-and-financing-of-the-aged-care-industry-july-2021.pdf">A$334,000</a>. Choosing how to pay can make this time even more challenging, particularly for those with <a href="https://theconversation.com/would-you-pass-this-financial-literacy-quiz-many-wont-and-its-affecting-expensive-aged-care-decisions-175063">low financial literacy</a>.</p> <p>This is an important and complex decision. It can affect your income, wealth, means-tested aged care fee, and bequests. Here are some things to consider before you decide.</p> <h2>3 ways to pay</h2> <p>You can <a href="https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/understanding-aged-care-home-accommodation-costs">pay</a> for a nursing home room in three ways.</p> <p>You can pay the entire room price as a one-off, refundable lump sum (a “refundable accommodation deposit”, sometimes shortened to RAD). This lump sum is refunded to the resident or their estate when the person leaves the nursing home (if they move or pass away).</p> <p>The refund is <a href="https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/aged-care-home-accommodation-refunds">guaranteed by the government</a>, even if a provider goes bankrupt.</p> <p>People who don’t want to pay a lump sum can instead choose rent-style, “daily accommodation payments” (sometimes shortened to DAP).</p> <p>These are fixed, daily interest-only payments calculated on the total room price. The rate at which they are calculated is known as the “maximum permissible interest rate” or MPIR.</p> <p>The maximum permissible interest rate is set by the government and is currently <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-06/base-interest-rate-bir-and-maximum-permissible-interest-rate-mpir-for-residential-aged-care_0.pdf">7.9%</a> per annum. The <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/residential-aged-care/managing-residential-aged-care-services/managing-accommodation-payments-and-contributions-for-residential-aged-care#accommodation-payment">formula</a> for a daily accommodation payment is (RAD × MPIR) ÷ 365.</p> <p>Unlike lump sums, daily accommodation payments are not refunded.</p> <p>The third option is a <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/residential-aged-care/managing-residential-aged-care-services/managing-accommodation-payments-and-contributions-for-residential-aged-care#accommodation-payment">combination payment</a>. This means paying part of the room price as a lump sum, with daily payments calculated on the remaining room amount. On leaving the home, the part lump sum is refunded to the resident or their estate.</p> <p>With a combination payment, the consumer can choose to pay whatever amount they like for the lump sum.</p> <p>The table below shows three different ways someone could pay for a room priced at $400,000.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=432&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=432&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=432&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=542&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=542&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/540310/original/file-20230731-130241-shaphm.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=542&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="attribution"><a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>So which is best? It’s impossible to say. It depends on a person’s circumstances, family situation, finances, preferences and expected length of stay.</p> <h2>Why do some people choose a lump sum?</h2> <p>One downside of a lump sum (or part lump sum) is that choosing this option means this money is not invested elsewhere.</p> <p>By handing over the lump sum, for example, you forgo returns you could have made by investing this same money into property or stocks over the period of your nursing home stay.</p> <p>On the other hand, paying lump sum means you get to avoid the daily interest payments (the 7.9% in the table above).</p> <p>So you could potentially be better off paying a lump sum if you think there’s no way you could make investment returns on that money that are substantially higher than the interest you’d be charged through daily payments.</p> <p>One advantage of choosing a lump sum is it’s considered an <a href="https://www.dva.gov.au/get-support/health-support/care-home-or-aged-care/help-pay-home-or-aged-care/residential-aged-0">exempt asset</a> for pension purposes; some people may get more <a href="https://www.afr.com/wealth/personal-finance/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-aged-care-deposits-20200302-p54606">pension</a> if they pay the lump sum.</p> <p>The lump sum, however, does count as an asset in determining the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/residential-aged-care/charging-for-residential-aged-care-services/residential-aged-care-fee-scenarios-for-people-entering-care-from-1-july-2014">means-tested care fee</a>.</p> <p>And if you sell your house, remember any money leftover after you pay the lump sum will be counted as assets when you’re means-tested for the pension and means-tested care fee.</p> <h2>Why might some people prefer daily payments?</h2> <p>Not everyone can can afford a lump sum. Some may not want to <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-it-worth-selling-my-house-if-im-going-into-aged-care-161674">sell their home</a> to pay one. Some may want to hold onto their house if they think property prices may increase in the future.</p> <p>Daily payments have recently overtaken lump sums as the most <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021/08/ninth-report-on-the-funding-and-financing-of-the-aged-care-industry-july-2021.pdf">popular payment option</a>, with 43% of people paying this way. However, recent <a href="https://amp-smh-com-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.smh.com.au/money/super-and-retirement/aged-care-interest-rate-increase-sees-daily-payments-almost-double-20230324-p5cuz2.html">interest rate rises</a> may slow or reverse this trend.</p> <p>And if a spouse or “<a href="https://www.dva.gov.au/get-support/health-support/care-home-or-aged-care/residential-aged-care/aged-care-costs">protected person</a>” – such as a dependant or relative that meets certain criteria – is still living in the house, it’s also exempt from assets tests for the pension and other aged care fees.</p> <p>If the home is vacated by a protected person, its value is still excluded from the pension means test for <a href="https://www.dva.gov.au/get-support/health-support/care-home-or-aged-care/help-pay-home-or-aged-care/residential-aged-0">two years</a> (although rental income is still assessed).</p> <p>If you do not anticipate a lengthy nursing home stay, daily payments may potentially be the easiest option. But it’s best to consult a financial adviser.</p> <h2>What does the research say?</h2> <p>My <a href="https://www.mq.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1190086/What-drives-end-of-life-financial-decisions.pdf">research</a> with colleagues found many people choose the lump sum option simply because they can afford to.</p> <p>Those <a href="https://ahes.org.au/portfolio-items/entering-aged-care/">owning residential property</a> are more likely to pay a lump sum, mostly because they can sell a house to get the money.</p> <p>People who consult financial advisers are also more likely to choose lump sums. This may be due to <a href="https://www.afr.com/wealth/aged-care-costs-most-opt-for-pay-as-you-go-20181023-h170g4">financial advice</a> suggesting it’s tough to earn investment returns higher than what you’d save by avoiding the interest charged in the daily payment option.</p> <p>Some aged care providers <a href="https://www.mq.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1164243/the-role-of-refundable-accommodation-deposits-FINAL.pdf">prefer</a> lump sum payment since they <a href="https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/providers/prudential-standards/permitted-use-refundable-deposits">use</a> these to renovate or refurbish their facilities. But providers are not allowed to influence or control your decision on how to pay.</p> <p>The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care recommended <a href="https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-03/final-report-recommendations.pdf">phasing out</a> lump sums as a payment option, leaving only daily payments. While that would reduce the complexity of the payment decision and remove the incentive for providers to sway decisions, it would also reduce consumer choice.</p> <h2>Is there anything else I should know?</h2> <p>Some 60% of people we <a href="https://www.mq.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1190086/What-drives-end-of-life-financial-decisions.pdf">surveyed</a> found the decision complex, while 54% said it was stressful.</p> <p>It is best to seek professional <a href="https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/understanding-aged-care-home-accommodation-costs#financial-advice">financial advice</a> before you decide.</p> <p>Services Australia also runs a free <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/what-financial-information-service?context=21836">Financial Information Service</a> that can help you better understand your finances and the payment decision. But it does not give <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/financial-information-service-officers?context=21836#a2">financial advice or prepare plans</a>.</p> <p>You have <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/residential-aged-care/managing-residential-aged-care-services/managing-accommodation-payments-and-contributions-for-residential-aged-care">28 days to choose a payment method</a> after admission, and six months to pay if you <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/residential-aged-care/managing-residential-aged-care-services/managing-accommodation-payments-and-contributions-for-residential-aged-care">choose a lump-sum payment</a>.</p> <p>In the interim, you will be charged daily interest payments on the room price.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207405/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anam-bilgrami-1179543">Anam Bilgrami</a>, Research Fellow, Macquarie University Centre for the Health Economy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/lump-sum-daily-payments-or-a-combination-what-to-consider-when-paying-for-nursing-home-accommodation-207405">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Hospice nurse shares the specific things people see before they die

<p>A hospice nurse has revealed the very specific things people often see before they die. </p> <p>Julie McFadden, a 39-year-old end of care nurse from Los Angeles, shared a now-viral TikTok about what people see in the moments before they pass away. </p> <p>Julie cares for terminally-ill patients near their end-of-life, keeping them comfortable in the months leading up to their death.</p> <p>In the final weeks of someone's life, people are often visited by lost loved ones and pets that give them the encouragement to cross over. </p> <p>The 39-year-old said most of her patients report apparitions of relatives who offer them comforting words such as, "We're coming to get you soon," or, "Don't worry, we'll help you".</p> <p>After working in hospice care for over five years, McFadden has learnt a lot about death and dying, and how people handle the last days of their life. </p> <p>She revealed that dying patients see family, friends and pets who have passed away so often it is noted in educational packets given to the patient and their relatives, "so they understand what's going on".</p> <p>McFadden also added that medical professionals don't know why these apparitions happen, and don't know how to explain it in a logical sense.</p> <p>These apparitions usually appear a month before the patient dies, she claims, and can either present in dreams or the person being able to physically see them.</p> <p>The nurse said patients will often ask, "Do you see what I'm seeing?"</p> <p>Rather than being scared of what they're seeing, Ms McFadden claims patients often find the visits "comforting".</p> <p>Julie went on to say that she doesn't believe these "visits" are hallucinations, as she says the patients are normally "pretty alert and oriented, they're usually lucid".</p> <p>"It's not like they're saying a bunch of crazy things that don't make any sense," Ms McFadden added. </p> <p>"They're usually functional and logical and questioning me, 'Why am I seeing my dead mom, do you see her?'"</p> <p>Ms McFadden ended her video by saying that for many people in their final days, these visits from loved ones can help a person feel a sense of calm and contentment around dying, rather than a sense of fear of the unknown. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock / Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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Should we move our loved one with dementia into a nursing home? 6 things to consider when making this tough decision

<p>Almost <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dementia/dementia-in-aus/contents/summary">400,000</a> Australians are living with dementia. A million or more family members and friends care for and support them. About two-thirds of people with dementia live in the community.</p> <p>Deciding to move a loved one into a nursing home is an incredibly difficult one. I found it difficult and stressful considering this move for my own loved one, even with 20 years of experience in dementia and aged care. Sometimes the decision has to be made quickly, such as when the person is in hospital. Sometimes the decision takes much longer and is made over months, or even years. </p> <p>There are some important things you should consider when trying to decide the best option for you and your loved one. I’ve outlined six here.</p> <h2>1. Your loved ones’ views around going into care</h2> <p>We don’t want to force our loved one to do something against their wishes. It’s unusual for someone to want to go into a nursing home. It may take many conversations and a decent amount of time before your loved one accepts they might need more care and that a nursing home is the right place to get that care.</p> <h2>2. Your loved one’s current quality of life</h2> <p>If you think your loved one has an overall good quality of life, and that their quality of life may decrease when they go into a nursing home, this could be a sign you should keep trying to support the person to live at home. </p> <p>However, if their quality of life is currently poor, particularly if this is due to not having enough day-to-day physical care, health care or emotional support, then moving into a nursing home might help meet their daily needs. </p> <p>Spend some time observing to figure out <a href="https://theconversation.com/home-for-the-holidays-and-worried-about-an-older-relative-make-observations-not-assumptions-173782">how your loved one is doing at home</a>. </p> <p>You could perhaps make a list of the things they need to lead a good life (company, three square meals, help taking medicines, going out into the community) and see if these are currently being met. </p> <h2>3. Risks if your loved one stays at home</h2> <p>People often <a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2318-7-13">go into a nursing home</a> because we think they are no longer safe living at home. </p> <p>It might be possible to reduce some of the risks of them being at home through <a href="https://www.enablingenvironments.com.au/home.html">modifying the home</a> and <a href="https://www.alzheimerswa.org.au/about-dementia/living-well-dementia/assistive-technology-help-sheets/">using technology</a>(personal emergency alarms, GPS trackers, stove timers) or services (meals on wheels, community care, physiotherapy for mobility).</p> <h2>4. Capacity of your loved one’s family and friends to keep supporting them</h2> <p>The availability and capacity of family carers is probably the most crucial part in supporting someone with dementia to keep living well at home. Carers often have other responsibilities such as work and children, which means they can’t support their loved one as much as they would like. </p> <p>Being a carer is physically and emotionally demanding, and over time caring can take its toll. Carers should seek help and support from other family and friends, learn more about <a href="https://forwardwithdementia.au/">dementia</a>, use services including <a href="https://theconversation.com/respite-care-can-give-carers-a-much-needed-break-but-many-find-accessing-it-difficult-183976">respite care</a> and <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/support">Dementia Australia</a>.</p> <p>Carers often face a difficult choice between their own health and wellbeing, and supporting their loved one to remain at home. If carers are caring as much as their time, energy and physical and mental wellbeing will allow, and that care is not enough for their loved one’s needs, then more help is needed – and residential care is one way of getting that help.</p> <h2>5. Alternatives to nursing home care</h2> <p>Community care services are government-subsidised services to support older people to keep living at home. You can get up to 14 hours of care a week depending on need, though there is an assessment process and often a waiting time for services. You can pay for community care privately as well, although this can be very expensive.</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.cota.org.au/information/aged-care-navigators/who-can-use-aged-care-navigator-services/">Aged Care Navigator</a> (or from 2023 an “aged care finder”) can help you search for suitable available home care services.</p> <p>Some families choose to move in with the person with dementia, or have them move in with family. This may be an option if there is suitable accommodation, and they are able to live together comfortably. </p> <h2>6. Availability of quality nursing home care</h2> <p>It’s emotionally easier to place a loved one in a nursing home if carers are confident the home will provide suitable care. Often, family want a nursing home that is geographically close so they can visit, has a suitable room (such as a single room with an ensuite), sufficient and kind staff with training in supporting people with dementia, a pleasant environment, nutritious appealing food, and quality clinical care. </p> <p>It takes time to visit and pick a <a href="https://theconversation.com/when-choosing-a-nursing-home-check-the-clothing-and-laundry-100727">suitable nursing home</a>, check it’s appropriately <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-check-if-your-mum-or-dads-nursing-home-is-up-to-scratch-123449">accredited</a>, and understand how much it will <a href="https://theconversation.com/so-youre-thinking-of-going-into-a-nursing-home-heres-what-youll-have-to-pay-for-114295">cost</a>. You might have to wait for a bed in a quality home. You can often trial the nursing home by having your loved one stay for two weeks of respite care. </p> <p>When your loved one enters nursing home care, you’ll still be caring for them. You want to ensure you can continue to support your loved one emotionally and practically in partnership with the nursing home.</p> <h2>Getting help</h2> <p>Usually there is no “right” or “wrong” decision. You might struggle and there might be family conflict around what the “right” decision is. </p> <p>Speaking to a counsellor at <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/support/counselling">Dementia Australia</a> might help work through the options and your feelings, you can talk to them as an individual or attend as a family.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/should-we-move-our-loved-one-with-dementia-into-a-nursing-home-6-things-to-consider-when-making-this-tough-decision-189770" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Caring

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Hospice nurse explains the “very comforting” thing that happens just before death

<p dir="ltr">A hospice nurse has shared the “very comforting” thing that happens to a lot of people in the last moments of their life. </p> <p dir="ltr">Julie McFadden, a 39-year-old healthcare professional from the US, supports people who are coming to the end of their lives, going into specialised homes to make sure they remain as comfortable as possible in their final days.</p> <p dir="ltr">Throughout her career, she said more than half of those she has looked after experienced “visioning”, which is when people who are often fully lucid see deceased friends, family and pets in the moments leading up to death.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It happens most of the time at the end of their life, but they aren’t delusional,” the former intensive care nurse said on TikTok. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s often very comforting for the person. It’s never scary - if they’re scared, it’s likely they’re experiencing delirium or paranoia, not visioning.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“People don’t talk about it much but it’s really common and more than half of people I have looked after have experienced it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s so normal to fear death and I’ve had several patients who have expressed their fear - but then a family member came to them and they were no longer scared.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Julie went on to share a further explanation as to why people experience “visioning”, and the other-worldly power behind it. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We have no idea why this (visioning) happens and we are not claiming that they really are seeing these people,” she explained in one video.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have no idea. But all I can tell you, as a healthcare professional who’s worked in this line of work for a very long time, (is that) it happens all the time.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It happens so much that we actually have to educate the family and the patient about this topic before it happens so they’re not incredibly alarmed,” she added.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Usually it’s a good indicator that the person’s getting close to death - usually about a month or a few weeks before they die.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It brings me comfort. I hope it brings you some comfort,” she concluded in her video, which quickly amassed more than 400,000 views.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Caring

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Could ‘virtual nurses’ be the answer to aged care staffing woes?

<p>Former Health Department Chief Martin Bowles has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/aug/03/virtual-nurses-may-be-needed-to-meet-247-aged-care-staff-mandate-top-health-executive-says" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reportedly proposed</a> “virtual nurses” could help address the shortage of nurses in aged care.</p> <p>This might involve remote, possibly artificial intelligence-assisted, virtual care, rather than physical nurse presence, to assist nursing homes to meet new legislative requirements to have a registered nurse present 24/7.</p> <p>There are clear opportunities for technological innovations to improve the care, health, and wellbeing of older people. However, substitution of face-to-face nursing and human interaction with remote care is not the answer.</p> <p>This seriously risks perpetuating the status quo where <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/03/australia-urgently-address-aged-care-abuse#:%7E:text=%E2%80%9CMultiple%20investigations%20and%20reports%20have,human%20rights%20of%20older%20people.%E2%80%9D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">many older people suffer</a> from isolation, neglect and lack of human engagement.</p> <p>Eroding requirements to properly staff nursing homes with registered nurses could make it even harder to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8685779/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">attract and keep</a> staff.</p> <h2>What are ‘virtual nurses’?</h2> <p>“<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00072-z" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Robot nurses</a>” already exist in some contexts, helping to move patients, take vital signs (such as blood pressure), carry medicines and laundry, and even engage with patients.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">How Paro the robot seal is being used to help people w/<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/dementia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#dementia</a> <a href="http://t.co/65GZPQdjb2">http://t.co/65GZPQdjb2</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/caregiving?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#caregiving</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Alzheimers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Alzheimers</a> <a href="http://t.co/gXYztkNAJo">pic.twitter.com/gXYztkNAJo</a></p> <p>— Ian Kremer (@LEAD_Coalition) <a href="https://twitter.com/LEAD_Coalition/status/602223483687317504?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 23, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <p>However, “virtual nursing” likely refers to more familiar technology where a real nurse provides a limited range of care via <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1541461219303866?casa_token=4QuZ-seF5i4AAAAA:0QtENxksLvBDzKsrvWXuPNcgrPcKf6XhaVTbOVJfsnE8nL-XVQypjCq9XZGXp_KJ51ekYUQn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">telehealth</a> (by phone and/or video).</p> <p>While some might appreciate when robots can assist with <a href="https://www.nursingworld.org/~494055/globalassets/innovation/robotics-and-the-impact-on-nursing-practice_print_12-2-2020-pdf-1.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">certain tasks</a>, much of what nurses do cannot and should not be performed remotely (or by robots).</p> <p>Indeed, older people, their loved ones, and staff are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/feb/05/yelling-out-for-help-the-atrocious-conditions-inside-australias-aged-care-homes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">calling out for</a> more physically present staff and more time to care and interact, not virtual interfaces and remote consultations.</p> <p>The benefits of technology in health care are unquestionable and many innovations have improved care for older people. Artificial intelligence shows promise in helping <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-81115-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener">prevent and detect falls</a>, and socially assistive robots such as <a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-019-1244-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PARO</a> (a baby harp seal), have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and antipsychotic use in people with dementia.</p> <p>Technology should not, however, be introduced at the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1322769620301438?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener">expense of care quality</a> or supporting and sustaining a suitably sized and skilled aged care workforce. We still need to adequately staff nursing homes to provide <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748921000869?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener">safe, dignified care</a>.</p> <h2>We need adequate staffing</h2> <p>The <a href="https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/final-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety</a> heard a vast quantity of evidence regarding insufficient staffing, particularly of nurses who have the education and skills to deliver high quality clinical and personal care.</p> <p>This expertise is why nurses cannot be replaced with remote care, and why the Commission recommended 24/7 registered nurse presence; this has now been <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6874" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legislated</a>.</p> <p>More than half of Australian aged care residents live in nursing homes with <a href="https://ro.uow.edu.au/ahsri/1073/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unacceptably low levels of staffing</a> and <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/2020-aged-care-workforce-census" target="_blank" rel="noopener">around 20%</a> do not have a registered nurse onsite overnight.</p> <p>Insufficient staffing results in workers <a href="https://www.anmfsa.org.au/Web/News/2022/The_grim_reality_of_what_happens_in_a_nursing_home_that_doesn_t_have_registered_nurses_24_7.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">not having time to interact</a> with residents meaningfully and compassionately and also contributes to avoidable hospitalisations, worse quality care and outcomes, and poor working conditions for staff.</p> <p>As social beings, human interaction is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fundamental to health</a>, wellbeing, and best practice care. This is particularly true for <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jan.12173?casa_token=l5Y_-r6rvt8AAAAA%3Awpp7P9Q9CUncyK60XOUPgv5ORx_Pi0jyMJ-Yp_kvdL7b5sTYih66Htp7l05J_I0vafKubec91hRL4Q" target="_blank" rel="noopener">older people in nursing homes</a> who are less able to engage with others and is especially vital for those living with <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/psyg.12765" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mobility challenges</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28332405/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">dementia</a>.</p> <p>Partly due to nurse low staffing levels, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12889-020-8251-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener">loneliness, isolation</a> and <a href="https://www.racgp.org.au/getattachment/86cf2c46-46f2-4177-a17b-700bb7cfa3ac/20030705lie.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mental ill health</a> are widespread in aged care and have become more common due to <a href="https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/nursing-home-residents" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pandemic related restrictions</a> on visitors and staff.</p> <p>Care experiences are shaped by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6382052/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">human interaction and contact</a>; the touch of a hand, a smile, eye contact, and being able to take the time to genuinely listen.</p> <p>These actions are central to how nurses and other staff build effective and <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jan.12862" target="_blank" rel="noopener">meaningful relationships</a> with residents.</p> <p>Seeking to replace human contact with virtual interfaces seems both inconsistent with the Royal Commission’s findings and possibly cruel.</p> <p>Personal interactions also help staff, as the <a href="https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-03/final-report-volume-1_0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Royal Commission</a> highlighted:</p> <blockquote> <p>Knowing those they care for helps care staff to understand how someone would like to be cared for and what is important to them. It helps staff to care – and to care in a way that reinforces that person’s sense of self and maintains their dignity. This type of person-centred care takes time.</p> </blockquote> <p>Rather than circumventing reforms to ensure more nurses provide face-to-face care in nursing homes, we need to address the range of challenges contributing to widespread and tenacious <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-8462.12427" target="_blank" rel="noopener">workforce shortages</a>.</p> <p>There are clear challenges for growing and retaining a sufficiently sized and skilled aged care workforce. However, government reforms, such as better pay, mandated care time, and greater accountability and transparency regarding the use of funds all work together to make aged care a feasible and attractive sector to work in.</p> <p>This is one where staff are supported to provide the high quality and safe aged care all Australians deserve and where older people receive best practice, human care.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared in <a href="https://theconversation.com/could-virtual-nurses-be-the-answer-to-aged-care-staffing-woes-dream-on-188215" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Retirement Life

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How nurses are changing the conversation around medicinal cannabis

<p dir="ltr">For many years, those with chronic conditions and ailments have had limited options for pain-relieving treatments, with varying opioids and anti-inflammatories the usual go-to for relief.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, in recent years the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia has <a href="https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/research-shows-medicinal-cannabis-boom-in-australi">increased</a> exponentially, giving patients a new lease on life. </p> <p dir="ltr">While more people are turning to this natural source of treatment, accessing medicinal cannabis is still not easy. </p> <p dir="ltr">This accessibility issue has prompted the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), which has more than 310,000 members, and NSW and QLD nurse associations to lobby for medicinal cannabis education to be introduced into the curriculum for all schools of nursing and midwifery in Australia, so they can administer in hospitals. </p> <p dir="ltr">For former Queensland nurse Lucy Haslam, the accessibility and affordability is a cause close to her heart, as she saw first-hand how medicinal cannabis helped her son, Dan, during his battle with stage 4 bowel cancer. </p> <p dir="ltr">For me personally, medicinal cannabis is a topic I have been interested in for years. As a patient with a chronic condition with very limited treatment options, the accessibility hurdle is one I have long been fighting to jump over. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, to long-term pain patients like myself, this new initiative by the ANMF is bringing newfound hope that accessibility and affordability is at the forefront of the medicinal cannabis conversation. </p> <p dir="ltr">Australian Natural Therapeutic Group (ANTG) Chief Scientific Officer Justin Sinclair said this will be a game-changer for patients, as nurses are on the frontline of care with close relationships with patients.</p> <p dir="ltr">This comes as new <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/illicit-use-of-drugs/australias-attitudes-and-perceptions-towards-drugs/contents/about">data</a> from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows almost half the population support legalising cannabis, given its recent boom in success for treating patients with both physical and mental conditions. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Justin Sinclair, medicinal cannabis is being used to treat a variety of conditions with outstanding results. </p> <p dir="ltr">He told <em>OverSixty</em>, “According to data from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the main clinical indication that medicinal cannabis is being used for in Australia is chronic pain, with over 115,000 prescriptions being issued to date.” </p> <p dir="ltr">“That being said, there are a wide range of other clinical indications that Australian patients are also using medicinal cannabis for, and includes examples such as anxiety, sleep disorders, migraine, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, palliative care, multiple sclerosis and cancer pain and symptom management.”</p> <p dir="ltr">For many patients with a chronic condition, overuse of traditional pain-relievers can lead to more complex health issues, which can, in some circumstances, make medicinal cannabis a safer long-term solution. </p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to the difference between medicinal cannabis and traditional pain-relievers, Dr Joel Wren, who is the President of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians Australian Chapter (SCCAC), believes medicinal cannabis is a superior option. </p> <p dir="ltr">He told <em>OverSixty</em>, “The significant differences of medicinal cannabis compared to other treatments is twofold; firstly it can be a multi-target medicine helping not only with pain, but possibly also sleep and anxiety all at the same time.” </p> <p dir="ltr">“The second difference is the variability; cannabis contains hundreds of botanical compounds which may contribute to the therapeutic benefits in different ways. Another huge difference is safety - there have been NO lethal overdoses on record that have ever been attributed 100% to cannabis.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As the ANMF and the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (AMCA) continue to campaign for wider distribution of medicinal cannabis, along with making the drug more affordable for those in need, Dr Joel Wren told <em>OverSixty</em> that patients should talk to their doctor about trialling medicinal cannabis through the current pathways. </p> <p dir="ltr">He said, “Australian patients need to speak with their doctor about possibly getting a prescription for medicinal cannabis. There has to be a clear medical reason, and conventional therapies and medications must be trialled first. If the doctor is confident, they can prescribe or alternatively they may refer to another doctor who can.”</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Moral injury: what happens when exhausted health workers can no longer provide the care they want for their patients

<p>Healthcare workers in New Zealand already face life-and-death decisions daily. But as multiple winter illnesses add pressure to a system already stretched by COVID, staff now also have to deal with <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/local-democracy-reporting/300534812/covid19-union-and-frontline-worker-say-staff-at-middlemore-hospital-facing-increasing-abuse" target="_blank" rel="noopener">daily abuse</a>, acute <a href="https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2022/05/christchurch-hospital-cancels-surgeries-as-it-hits-112-pct-capacity.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">staff shortages</a> and <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/06/17/dhb-clashes-with-union-over-stretched-palmerston-north-ed/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unsafe working conditions</a>. At times, they cannot provide the care they would like for their patients.</p> <p>The impact on health workers is often described as <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/great-minds-health-workers-on-covid-19-frontlines-burnt-and-bled-by-two-years-of-virus/T7JXOXGXEKKCICUNOMUJYT4QWM/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">stress and burnout</a>. The consequences of this prolonged pressure can be seen in the number of <a href="https://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/article/undoctored/acem-welcomes-111b-health-nz-budget-urges-fixes-health-workforce-crisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">doctors</a>, <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/nursing-shortage-nurses-broken-while-sector-faces-thousands-of-vacancies/L7NUXOPG4AB472OKXOH5QJSUMU/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">nurses</a> and other <a href="https://capsulenz.com/be/therapist-shortage-nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">health professionals</a> leaving their jobs for overseas positions and the private sector, or being lost to their professions completely.</p> <p>Many of these healthcare workers may well be suffering from a more serious form of psychological distress than burnout: moral injury.</p> <p><a href="https://www.phoenixaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Moral-Stress-Healthcare-Workers-COVID-19-Guide-to-Moral-Injury.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Moral injury</a> refers to the psychological, social and spiritual impact of events on a person who holds strong values (such as caring for patients) and operates in high-stakes situations (hospital emergency care), but has to act in a way inconsistent with those values.</p> <p>Examples include having to turn patients away despite them being in pain or discomfort; being unable to provide adequate care due to staff shortages; having to care for a dying patient isolated from their loved ones while wearing full protective gear.</p> <p>Symptoms of moral injury can include strong feelings of guilt and shame (about not being able to uphold healthcare values, for example) as well as high levels of anger and contempt towards the system that prevents proper care.</p> <p>High levels of self-criticism, loss of trust in people and organisations and a weakening of personal relationships are further <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(21)00113-9/fulltext" target="_blank" rel="noopener">symptoms</a> of moral injury.</p> <p>It can be viewed as a <a href="https://www.afta.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Physicians-aren%E2%80%99t-%E2%80%98burning-out.%E2%80%99-They%E2%80%99re-suffering-from-moral-injury..pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">more severe form of burnout</a>. But while burnout can happen in most workplaces, moral injury requires the three core components listed above.</p> <p><strong>From war to the operating table</strong></p> <p>The term moral injury arose in <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/cooccurring/moral_injury.asp" target="_blank" rel="noopener">military psychology</a> to refer to situations where, for example, soldiers were unable to intervene to save lives in case they risked breaching the rules of engagement. More recently, the term has been adapted to apply to healthcare.</p> <p>Viewing the experiences of health workers through this lens can help us understand why they may experience a seesawing emotional state and the confusing conflict of simultaneously wanting to be at work while wishing they were anywhere but.</p> <p>For healthcare workers, understanding the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6752815/#:%7E:text=Over%20time%2C%20these%20repetitive%20insults,is%20in%20some%20way%20deficient" target="_blank" rel="noopener">concept of moral injury</a> may help reframe it as something that is happening to them rather than because they don’t have the skills to cope. The latter can sometimes be a mistaken implication of the term burnout.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=400&fit=crop&dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=600&h=400&fit=crop&dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=600&h=400&fit=crop&dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&h=503&fit=crop&dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=30&auto=format&w=754&h=503&fit=crop&dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/471254/original/file-20220627-22-u7c2tg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=15&auto=format&w=754&h=503&fit=crop&dpr=3 2262w" alt="Exhausted nurse" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Staff shortages can take health workers beyond exhaustion and burnout.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Getty Images</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>While healthcare workers are largely at the mercy of the organisations they work for, there are some steps individuals can take to alleviate moral injury. Firstly, simply recognising they may be suffering from this condition can reduce confusion and validate their experiences.</p> <p>Secondly, reconnecting back to an individual’s values and beliefs can help refocus and re-energise, at least temporarily. Reminding themselves why they got into this job in the first place is a useful place to start.</p> <p><strong>Organisational responses</strong></p> <p>Organisations and businesses must play a lead role in preventing and treating moral injury. Many of the factors leading to it (lack of resources or staff, a pandemic or peak flu season) are outside the control of individuals.</p> <p>Most modern businesses will be aware they have a legal responsibility under the 2015 <a href="https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2015/0070/latest/DLM5976660.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Health and Safety at Work Act</a> to look after their employees’ mental and physical well-being.</p> <p>At a high level, organisations can advocate for systemic change and increases in funding and resourcing, where needed. But these higher-level changes take time to achieve. In the meantime, it is important healthcare workers are protected and supported.</p> <p>Broad steps an organisation can take to prevent or reduce moral injury include removing the burden of difficult ethical decisions from frontline workers and instead adopting evidence-based policies to guide an organisation-wide response. Where possible, rotating staff between high and low-stress environments may help.</p> <p>Providing funding for workers to access professional psychological supervision is another practical step businesses can consider. At a team level, it can be helpful to have leaders who are visible, validating and can help make sense of the moral conflict. Leaders can also play a role in keeping alive professional values and modelling their own struggles with the situation.</p> <p>The general public also has a role to play in supporting healthcare workers. Any steps we can take to protect our own health and thereby reduce pressure on the system can have a cumulative effect on the well-being of doctors, nurses and allied health clinicians. The health of our nation rests with those who work in this field and it is in all our interest that their health is protected and prioritised.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/185485/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dougal-sutherland-747623" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dougal Sutherland</a>, Clinical Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/te-herenga-waka-victoria-university-of-wellington-1200" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/moral-injury-what-happens-when-exhausted-health-workers-can-no-longer-provide-the-care-they-want-for-their-patients-185485" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Terminally ill nurse caught in desperate waiting game

<p dir="ltr">A nurse who has months to live as a result of her diagnosis of motor neuron disease (MND) is “virtually paralysed” and waiting for the NSW government to decide how she will die.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sara Wright had been a nurse for 33 years before she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - a subtype of MND - two years ago, and is now dependent on a carer 24 hours a day.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The disease started as a weakness in my right foot, travelled up my right leg, then my left foot and leg,” the 54-year-old told <em><a href="https://7news.com.au/news/public-health/virtually-paralysed-nurse-waits-for-nsw-parliament-to-decide-how-she-will-die-c-6699939">7NEWS.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Then it travelled up my torso affecting my upper body, firstly my abdominal muscles, and now it affects both of my arms and hands, my lungs and my swallowing and speaking muscles.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Wright, who shared her story via dictation since speaking is difficult and painful, is waiting to see whether voluntary assisted dying laws (VAD) will be passed in the NSW Upper House next week.</p> <p dir="ltr">If they don’t pass, she says she will likely “have to deal with suffocating or choking to death”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s a terminal illness and the average life expectancy is three to five years,” she explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Given I have already been living with the disease for three years, and the progression has been faster than I ever could have expected, I don’t know how long I will live.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t think that I will live for more than another six to eight months, as my breathing capacity is reducing very fast and I do not wish to have a tracheostomy (an operation where a breathing hole is cut into the front of the neck and windpipe).”</p> <p dir="ltr">ALS/MND is more common among adults aged between 40 and 70 years, with 384 people diagnosed each day according to the <a href="https://www.als-mnd.org/what-is-alsmnd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Wright’s career as a nurse made her all too aware of the “limitations of palliative care in the final stages of terminal illness”, so she initially planned to book into Dignitas, a non-profit organisation in Switzerland that offers a range of end-of-life services.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed her plan with the closure of international borders.</p> <p dir="ltr">She then considered moving interstate, where VAD is legal, but she worried about uprooting her 15-year-old daughter, Ester, from her home and friends, especially since most of their family is UK-based.</p> <p dir="ltr">“(Ester) is now 15 and she needs to have her community around her for support when I die,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Obviously this is an incredibly difficult conversation to have with your own child.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have not specifically spoken about what could happen to me if the laws aren’t passed … but I have tried to assure her that family in the UK will fly out to be with her as soon as they can if I die unexpectedly.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Wright’s fate is tied to the voluntary assisted dying bill, which passed through the NSW Parliament’s lower house last year and is legal or will soon be legal in <a href="https://end-of-life.qut.edu.au/assisteddying" target="_blank" rel="noopener">every other state</a> except NSW.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I know that all my family, my parents, my brothers, my ex-husband are all in support of voluntary assisted dying and helping me relieve my suffering,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But none of us want to break the law or risk anyone being imprisoned if they helped me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the bill entered the upper house last March, it has been debated passionately and passed through a second reading stage last week.</p> <p dir="ltr">It has even divided the state’s core leadership, with Premier Dominic Perrottet opposing the bill in favour of improving palliative care and Health Minister Brad Hazzard supporting it - despite opposing euthanisia for 29 years.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Wright, a strong supporter of VAD laws, has been brought close to the death of others during her nursing career and said she was “pretty certain” that if members debating the bill had seen people die uncomfortable, drawn-out deaths like she had, they would support the bill.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I have seen far too many people, elderly people, in the middle of the night in a ward without anyone there to hold their hand because nobody knew that was going to be their time to die,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think that most people don’t think enough about death because we are all frightened of it.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And this could be the reason that some people are refusing to consider VAD laws, because it’s a topic that is deeply uncomfortable and taboo.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If we as a society were more mindfully aware and thoughtful about death, as it is the only certain outcome of life, then perhaps people would develop more compassion.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Though the laws could still be passed at some point if it fails to pass in next week’s final vote, Ms Wright said it would affect her whole family if it was too late for her to take advantage of it.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This will not only cause suffering to me but also to all of my family,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I wonder how many people have really stopped to think about what they would like, if they were in a position where they were going to die of (an) unpleasant and drawn-out death.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-efb8451b-7fff-fb48-8f9b-0af951ee000d"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: 7News</em></p>

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Nurse who lost both legs to Russian landmine gets married in hospital

<p>The first dance is a big moment for any bride and groom, but it was even more special for Oksana and Victor.</p> <p>Oksana lost both her legs on a Russian landmine in March, in their home town of Lysychansk, located in the Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine region of Luhansk.</p> <p>The explosion didn't injure Victor, although they were together at the time, but the bride lost both of her legs as well as four fingers on her left hand.</p> <p>Oksana underwent four surgeries and was later evacuated to Dnipro to recover and prepare for prosthetics, and eventually to Lviv, in the west near the Polish border.</p> <p>As she waited for the next part of the healing process, the couple, who have two children together, took the opportunity to wed in a Lviv hospital last week.</p> <p>“Life should not be postponed until later, decided Oksana and Victor, who in six years together never found time for marriage," Lviv Medical Association said, sharing video of the couple's special moment.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">❤️🇺🇦 Very special lovestory.<br />A nurse from Lysychansk, who has lost both legs on a russian mine, got married in Lviv. On March 27, Victor and Oksana were coming back home, when a russian mine exploded. The man was not injured, but Oksana's both legs were torn off by the explosion. <a href="https://t.co/X1AQNwKwyu">pic.twitter.com/X1AQNwKwyu</a></p> <p>— Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine - Ukrainian Parliament (@ua_parliament) <a href="https://twitter.com/ua_parliament/status/1521194382682202113?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 2, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>The footage was also shared by Ukraine's Parliament, which wished the couple well in their new life together. The sweet dance shows the groom carrying his new wife in his arms as she buries her head in her husband's neck.</p> <p>The couple are said to have wed at a local registry office before the hospital reception took place. Oksana is set to travel to Germany for further treatment.</p> <p><em>Image: Twitter </em></p>

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Ukrainian nurses care for surrogacy babies underground

<p dir="ltr">A makeshift bomb shelter in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has become a temporary home for babies born to surrogate mothers whose new parents can’t enter the country to take them home.</p> <p dir="ltr">At least 20 babies - including some that are just a few days old - have been taken underground where they are well cared for by the many nurses from the surrogacy centre also stranded in the shelter, as reported by <em><a href="https://7news.com.au/news/conflict/surrogate-babies-wait-out-war-in-ukraine-c-6135483" target="_blank" rel="noopener">7News</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">With Ukrainian troops fighting off Russian forces in Kyiv’s suburbs, it has become too dangerous for the nurses to travel between the shelter and their homes.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Now we are staying here to preserve our and the babies’ lives,” said Lyudmilia Yaschenko, a 51-year-old nurse.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb94e0eb-7fff-8a0a-386f-688930738396"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“We are hiding here from the bombing and this horrible misery.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/03/surrogacy.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>At least 20 surrogacy babies are being cared for in an underground bunker as the war rages on above them. Image: Getty Images</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Yaschenko said they could leave the shelter for brief periods to get some fresh air, but that they worked constantly to look after the children.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are almost not sleeping at all,” she said. “We are working around the clock.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She also worried for her two sons - aged 22 and 30 - who were fighting to defend the country.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ukraine is one of the few countries that allows foreigners to use surrogate services, with <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60824936" target="_blank" rel="noopener">most</a> of the 2000 children born through surrogacy every year are matched to foreign couples from Europe, Latin America and China.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though Ms Yaschenko wouldn’t say how many children are still waiting to be united with their parents or how many surrogate mothers are expected to deliver soon, the nurses have plenty of food and baby supplies to continue caring for them as they wait for the war to end.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-282c8773-7fff-42b6-9767-5b052ac0d86b"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Trainee nurse sprints into action to save toddler

<p dir="ltr">A trainee nurse on his way to work has been hailed a hero after jumping into action and saving a toddler. </p> <p dir="ltr">Nicholas Jensen did not think twice when he heard a mother screaming for someone to help her two-year-old daughter who was turning blue and foaming from the mouth. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 44-year-old nurse grabbed the motionless toddler and placed her in the recovery position before rushing to the Princess Alexandra Hospital emergency room in Brisbane. </p> <p dir="ltr">CCTV from the hospital carpark captured the heroic moment he ran to the hospital with the girl’s mother following behind. </p> <p dir="ltr">Inside, he is seen running through the emergency department where he is directed by a fellow nurse through a door where he is met by seven other nurses.</p> <p dir="ltr">They rush him into a room where the toddler is placed on a bed and resuscitation begins to save the child.</p> <p dir="ltr">The nurses saved the toddler’s life and found she had suffered an atypical febrile convulsion which can be caused by a viral infection and fever, <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/qld/incredible-moment-trainee-nurse-saves-motionless-toddler-in-brisbane--c-6007072" target="_blank" rel="noopener">7News</a> reported. </p> <p dir="ltr">Doctors ordered the toddler to stay for two days for observation and is now doing well, thanks to Nicholas’s quick thinking.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In the moment adrenalin and my training kicked in,” he said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“This is why I got into this job, great job satisfaction. It is a meaningful career.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: 7News</em></p>

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“The status quo can’t continue”: Nurses striking for first time in a decade

<p dir="ltr">Thousands of nurses in NSW public hospitals will <a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw-nurses-vote-statewide-strike-221536766.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">go on strike</a>, as frustrations over understaffing, pay and working conditions prompt the first industrial action in almost a decade.</p><p dir="ltr">Though votes are still underway in some branches, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) says a majority have endorsed the industrial action.</p><p dir="ltr">The union, which represents 48,000 nurses across the state’s public hospitals, says nurses will take part in a statewide strike for up to 24 hours on Tuesday, while skeleton staff will remain to care for the critically ill and preserve life.</p><p dir="ltr">“We don’t recommend industrial action lightly, especially when a pandemic is still underway, but the status quo can’t continue,” NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said on Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">“We can’t return to pre-COVID-19 staffing levels when we were already in crisis.”</p><p dir="ltr">Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is considering a full-day strike, while nurses at Westmead and Cumberland hospitals will likely strike for 12 hours.</p><p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/02/nurse-strike.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p><p dir="ltr"><em>ICU nurses from Westmead Hospital protest, demanding the government address staffing levels. Image: NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association</em></p><p dir="ltr">The strike on February 15 will also coincide with widespread rallies across the state, with locations including Newcastle, Tamworth, Bathurst, Bega and Lismore.</p><p dir="ltr">It is the first statewide protest since 2013, as hospitals remain on high alert during the pandemic and face staff furloughs as their COVID-19 patient load stays high.</p><p dir="ltr">The union is primarily asking that the government follow in the steps of Queensland and Victoria by implementing nursing and midwifing staffing ratios.</p><p dir="ltr">“If the premier wants a well-staffed, well trained and resilient nursing and midwifery workforce in the public health system, then he must act now and implement shift by shift ratios across NSW,” Mr Holmes said.</p><p dir="ltr">The union is also asking for a fair pay rise, higher than the 2.5 percent offered by the government, as well as for COVID-19 workers’ compensation to remain unchanged.</p><p dir="ltr">The latter demand comes as the government seeks to scrap an automatic presumption under workers’ compensation rules that essential workers were infected with the virus at work.</p><p dir="ltr">If the assumption is successfully removed, doctors, nurses, paramedics, teachers, supermarket workers and other essential workers will need to prove they caught COVID-19 at work, which unions say is virtually impossible.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Image: NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association</em></p>

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Conflicts between nursing home residents are often chalked up to dementia – the real problem is inadequate care and neglect

<p>Frank Piccolo was a beloved high school chemistry teacher in Ontario, Canada, until his retirement in 1998. “His trademark was to greet all of his students at the door at the start of class to make sure everyone felt welcomed there,” <a href="https://www.saultstar.com/2013/02/21/remembering-frank-piccolo--oconnor">wrote a former student</a>. “He had extensive knowledge of his subject matter, passion for his craft, and empathy for his students.”</p> <p>But after Frank’s retirement, he developed dementia. When his condition declined, his family moved him to a Toronto nursing home. One evening in 2012, another resident – a woman with dementia – entered Frank’s bedroom. She hit Frank repeatedly in the head and face with a wooden activity board. Staff found Frank slumped over in his wheelchair, drenched in blood. He died three months later.</p> <p>The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care investigated. It found that the woman had a history of pushing, hitting and throwing objects at staff and other residents. But the nursing home didn’t address the woman’s behavioral expressions for weeks before the attack on Piccolo, <a href="https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/21048374/inspection-report.pdf">the agency determined</a>. “There were no interventions implemented, no strategies developed,” the report stated.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440940/original/file-20220115-27-vtyb52.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="Frank Piccolo and his wife, Theresa, standing near each othe, on vacation, with a hillside village and the sea behind them." /> <span class="caption">Frank Piccolo and his wife, Theresa, traveling together in Italy in 2001.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Theresa Piccolo</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-NC-ND</a></span></p> <p>As a gerontologist and <a href="http://dementiabehaviorconsulting.com">dementia behavior specialist</a>, I’ve <a href="https://www.healthpropress.com/product/understanding-and-preventing-harmful-interactions-between-residents-with-dementia/">written a book</a> on preventing these incidents. I also co-directed, with dementia care expert Judy Berry, a documentary on the phenomenon called “<a href="https://terranova.org/film-catalog/fighting-for-dignity-a-film-on-injurious-and-fatal-resident-to-resident-incidents-in-long-term-care-home">Fighting for Dignity</a>.” The film sheds light on the emotional trauma experienced by family members of residents harmed during these episodes in U.S. long-term care homes.</p> <h2>Reporting and stigmatizing</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01808.x">Resident-to-resident incidents</a> are defined by researchers as “negative, aggressive and intrusive verbal, physical, material and sexual interactions between residents” that can cause “psychological distress and physical harm in the recipient.”</p> <p>These incidents <a href="https://doi.org/10.7326/M15-1209">are prevalent</a> in U.S. nursing homes. But they are <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2021/11/29/resident-to-resident-incidents-hidden-source-nursing-home-harm/">largely overlooked</a> by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing care in approximately 15,000 nursing homes across the country. Consequently, such incidents <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/08946566.2017.1333939">remain untracked</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2015.10.003">understudied</a> and largely unaddressed.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440941/original/file-20220115-18-1qy7een.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440941/original/file-20220115-18-1qy7een.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="An elderly man with severe injuries, including cut marks and bruises, across his face and forehead." /></a> <span class="caption">Frank Piccolo sustained severe injuries to his face and head after a woman with dementia entered his bedroom and hit him repeatedly with an activity board.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Theresa Piccolo</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-NC-ND</a></span></p> <p>These interactions don’t just result <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.291.5.591">in injuries</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0733464819863926">and deaths</a> among residents. They also leave behind devastated families who then must <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/08/20/nursing-home-immunity-covid-lawsuits">fight for answers</a> and accountability from nursing homes.</p> <p>Making matters worse, <a href="https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-19-433">government reports</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/S0714980815000094">research studies</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301220981232">media coverage</a> commonly describe these episodes with words that stigmatize people with dementia. Researchers, public officials and journalists tend to <a href="https://www.startribune.com/when-senior-home-residents-are-abusers-minnesota-rarely-investigates/450625693/">label the incidents as “abuse</a>,” “violence” and “aggression.” They call a resident involved in an incident a “perpetrator” or an “aggressor.” News outlets described the attack on Piccolo by the woman with dementia as “aggressive” or “violent.” And when reporting on <a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/09/more_than_10000_canadians_abused_annually_by_fellow_nursing_home_residents.html">the phenomenon</a> in Canada, the Toronto Star called it “abuse.”</p> <h2>Getting to the root of the real problem</h2> <p>Most incidents, however, do not constitute abuse. A growing body of evidence suggests the true cause of these injuries and deaths is inadequate care and neglect on the part of care homes. Specifically, there is a lack of the specialized care that people with dementia require.</p> <p>Two of every three residents <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2021.02.009">involved in these incidents</a> have dementia. One study found that the rate of these episodes was nearly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.291.5.591">three times higher</a> in dementia care homes than in other long-term care homes. A recent study also found <a href="https://doi.org/10.7326/m15-1209">an association</a> between residency in a dementia care home and higher rates of injurious or fatal interactions between residents.</p> <p>But for these residents, the conflicts occur mostly when their emotional, medical and other needs are not met. When they reach a breaking point in frustration related to the unmet need, they may push or hit another resident. My research in the U.S. and Canada has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/08946566.2018.1474515">“push-fall” episodes</a> constitute nearly half of fatal incidents.</p> <p>Another U.S. study found that as residents’ cognitive functioning declined, they faced <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.291.5.591">a greater likelihood</a> of injury in these incidents. Those with advanced dementia were more susceptible to inadvertently “getting in harm’s way,” by saying or doing things that trigger angry reactions in other residents.</p> <p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that what it calls “aggression” between residents <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ea_book_revised_2016.pdf">is not abuse</a>. Instead, the CDC noted that these episodes may result when care homes fail to prevent them by taking adequate action. And a study on <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0733464819863926">fatal incidents</a> in U.S. nursing homes has shown that many residents were “deemed to lack cognitive capacity to be held accountable for their actions.”</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gk5iEo-s_6M?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">An undercover yearlong investigation into nursing homes in Ontario, Canada, revealed shocking instances of abuse and neglect by staff members.</span></p> <h2>How incidents often occur</h2> <p>In one study, researchers examined <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1054773813477128">situational triggers</a> among residents with cognitive impairments. The strongest triggers involved personal space and possessions. Examples include taking or touching a resident’s belongings or food, or unwanted entries into their bedroom or bathroom. The most prevalent triggering event was someone being too close to a resident’s body.</p> <p>That study also found that crowded spaces and interpersonal stressors, such as two residents claiming the same dining room seat, could lead to these episodes. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301213502588">My own work</a> and a different <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0733464820955089">Canadian study</a> came to similar conclusions.</p> <p>Other research shows that when residents are bored or lack <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F153331750502000210">meaningful activity</a>, they become involved in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1471301213502588">harmful interactions</a>. Evenings and weekends can be particularly dangerous, with fewer organized activities and fewer staff members and managers present. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/08946566.2018.1474515">Conflicts between roommates</a> are also common and harmful.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/438566/original/file-20211220-49721-z6ev8m.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="With a smiling staff member looking on, two nursing home residents enjoy conversation while having coffee." /> <span class="caption">Residents with dementia who are meaningfully engaged in activities are less likely to become involved in harmful incidents with other residents.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/caretaker-with-senior-people-in-nursing-home-royalty-free-image/489582967?adppopup=true" class="source">Morsa Images/DigitalVision via Getty Images</a></span></p> <p>A growing body of research suggests that most incidents between residents are preventable. A major risk factor, for example, is lack of adequate supervision, which often occurs when staff are assigned to caring for too many residents with dementia. One U.S. study found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.7326/M15-1209">higher caseloads</a> among nurses’ aides were associated with higher incident rates.</p> <p>And with <a href="https://doi.org/10.4137/hsi.s38994">poor staffing levels</a> in up to half of U.S. nursing homes, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/08946566.2018.1474515">staff members do not witness</a> many incidents. In fact, one study found that staff members missed the majority of unwanted <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2016.1211620">bedroom entries</a> by residents with severe dementia.</p> <h2>Residents with dementia are not to blame</h2> <p>In most of these situations, the person with dementia does not intend to injure or kill another resident. Individuals with dementia live with a serious cognitive disability. And they often must do it while being forced to share small living spaces with many other residents.</p> <p>Their behavioral expressions are often attempts to cope with frustrating and frightening situations in their social and physical environments. They are typically the result of unmet human needs paired with cognitive processing limitations.</p> <p>Understanding the role of dementia is important. But seeing a resident’s brain disease as the main cause of incidents is inaccurate and unhelpful. That view ignores external factors that can lead to these incidents but are outside of the residents’ control.</p> <p>Frank’s wife, Theresa, didn’t blame the woman who injured her husband or the staff. She blamed the for-profit company operating the nursing home. Despite its revenue of $2 billion in the year before the incident, it failed in its “<a href="https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/09/more_than_10000_canadians_abused_annually_by_fellow_nursing_home_residents.html">duty to protect</a>” Piccolo. “They did not keep my husband safe as they are required to do,” she said.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/173750/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/eilon-caspi-1298265">Eilon Caspi</a>, Assistant Research Professor of Health, Intervention, and Policy, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-connecticut-1342">University of Connecticut</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/conflicts-between-nursing-home-residents-are-often-chalked-up-to-dementia-the-real-problem-is-inadequate-care-and-neglect-173750">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: CasarsaGuru/E+ via Getty Images</em></p>

Retirement Life

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Hospice nurse reveals the three words many people say before they die

<p dir="ltr">A hospice nurse on TikTok has revealed that many of her patients say the same three words before passing away. Posting to the social media site, @hospicenursejulie revealed that her patients often believe they are seeing visions of spirits belonging to their deceased loved ones before they die, prompting them to say ‘I love you’ or to call out to those relatives.</p> <p dir="ltr">"There is something most people say before they die and it's usually, 'I love you,' or they call out to their mum or dad who have usually already died,” she revealed. She explains that patients who are otherwise completely lucid will tell her they can see spirits or angels of loved ones who’ve passed away up to a month before dying themselves. These visions will often urge the patient to “come home”.</p> <blockquote style="max-width: 605px; min-width: 325px;" class="tiktok-embed" data-video-id="7007617336870046981"><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@hospicenursejulie" target="_blank" title="@hospicenursejulie">@hospicenursejulie</a> Reply to @birdsthewordchicktok <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/hospicenursejulie" target="_blank" title="hospicenursejulie">#hospicenursejulie</a> <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/nurse" target="_blank" title="nurse">#nurse</a> <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/nursesoftiktok" target="_blank" title="nursesoftiktok">#nursesoftiktok</a> <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/learnontiktok" target="_blank" title="learnontiktok">#learnontiktok</a> <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/original-sound-7007617113468734214" target="_blank" title="♬ original sound - 💕 Hospice nurse Julie 💕">♬ original sound - 💕 Hospice nurse Julie 💕</a></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">In another video, Julie sought to demystify what dying looks like. She explains, "Breathing patterns change towards the end of life during the actively dying phase, which is usually a few hours to a few days before death.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Most families think this indicates something is wrong but nine times out of 10 it doesn't. Changes in skin colour, which is also called mottling, where the extremities turn a little purple also is something people think indicates something is wrong — but it doesn't.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Terminal secretions, AKA the death rattle, this is just a collection of a small bit of saliva in the back of the throat that just sounds really bad. Fever happens a lot, too, because we lose the ability to control the core temperature so our temperature will fluctuate at the end of life.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Again, it's all very normal and part of the death and dying process if you are dying naturally at home."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: David Sacks/Getty Images</em></p>

Caring

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Manhunt underway after nurse attacked

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A manhunt is underway after a nurse was allegedly assaulted while administering a COVID-19 vaccine at an inner Sydney medical centre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Emergency services were called to Glebe Medical Practice on Monday August 27 at around 11.45am following reports of an assault. Officers were told a 37-year-old nurse was administering a COVID-19 vaccination to a patient outside the practice when she was allegedly assaulted by an unknown man. The patient was vaccinated outdoors as they lived in one of the 12 COVID hotspot LGAs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s alleged the man grabbed the nurse by the wrist in an attempt to stop her from administering the vaccine. Police have searched for the man to no avail, and have now released CCTV footage of a man they believe may be able to assist with ongoing inquiries.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Police release CCTV following alleged assault of healthcare worker - Glebe<a href="https://t.co/CKXUi130so">https://t.co/CKXUi130so</a> <a href="https://t.co/L8a1I5R7PS">pic.twitter.com/L8a1I5R7PS</a></p> — NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) <a href="https://twitter.com/nswpolice/status/1442357471331319810?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 27, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The man is shown wearing a black cap, a red bandanna around his neck, a black t-shirt, dark blue tracksuit pants with a white stripe down the side, leather fingerless gloves, and sneakers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Anyone who witnessed the incident or believes they know the identity of the man, is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: NSW Police</span></em></p>

Legal

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Outrage after nurse punched multiple times in the face

<p>Police are currently searching for a man in Canada they say punched a nurse in the face multiple times, knocking her to the ground after administering a COVID-19 vaccine to his wife without his permission.</p> <p>On Monday, around 9:15am, a man walked into a Brunet Pharmacy in Sherbrooke, a city in southern Qubec, accusing a nurse in her 40s of vaccinating his wife, police said.</p> <p>Right at the beginning, the suspect was very angry, very aggressive, he asked the nurse why she vaccinated his wife without approval, without his consent,” Carrier said.</p> <p>“He punched her right in the face multiple times so the nurse didn’t have the time to defend or explain herself….she fell to the ground and the suspect left running out of the drugstore.”</p> <p>No laws in Canada state that the individuals need their spouses’ permission to get vaccinated, and it is unclear if his wife had given consent.</p> <p>The nurse was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance where she was treated for “multiple injuries to the face” he said.</p> <p>As a result of the incident, the pharmacy suspended vaccinations.</p> <p>Brunet Pharmacy’s parent company, The Jean Coutu Group Inc., declined to comment by told<span> </span><em>CNN<span> </span></em>they “fully condemn this act which is unacceptable towards the pharmacy teams who have been providing essential services since the beginning of the pandemic.</p> <p>Canada has a vaccination rate of 69.8 per cent of its population, surpassing the US by 15.6%, according to data from<span> </span><em>Our World in Data.</em></p> <p>Although, most Canadians have welcomed public health measures and the country has one of the highest vaccination rates worldwide, case counts and hospitalisations are on the rise, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, especially among younger, unvaccinated Canadians.</p> <p>Police do not have the name or photo of the suspect or security footage of the incident, Carrier said.</p>

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