In an article published on The Spinoff earlier this week, Frankie Bennett, a campaigner in the End of Life Choice referendum with Yes for Compassion, argues that allowing palliative care and aged care providers to choose whether to allow assisted dying on their premises is unfair, distressing and “will lead to people dying the harrowing deaths they desperately sought to avoid.”
If a care provider decides not to permit assisted dying, the only option is to send them to another facility that will support them. While we don’t wish to pick sides on the debate, one of Bennett’s points really hit home for us: “what happens if a person can’t be safely moved, or there is nowhere to move them to?”
It’s an unpleasant thought: not just for the person who might be moved while terminally ill but for that person’s loved ones. I certainly wouldn’t wish that experience for my 94-year-old nana.
It got us thinking: what should people expect when they transition into care?
For all intents and purposes, a care home is your new home; not just somewhere to live but a place in which you feel a sense of belonging. Importantly, you should feel that your cultural and spiritual values and personal beliefs are respected and upheld.
Yet how you live in your family home differs greatly to how you live in a shared flat, for example. In your family home, you likely run your own ship; yet in a shared flat, other people’s choices will inevitably affect you too.
So, while a care home is your home, it might pay to think of it more as a flat or communal house. Think back to your flatting days: you wouldn’t have moved into a flat with people who didn’t share similar values to you (or if you did, you’d quickly have realised your mistake and found a more suitable place).
It’s the same with a care home: the perfect rest home for you is one that allows you to make choices that are right for you. If assisted dying is something you may consider in the future, if would be wise to ask any of your shortlisted homes what their stance is on the issue. It could save a lot of pain in the future.