26 May 2021: A University of Canberra student has seen her university project come to life, with her newly-developed resource, to assist palliative care employees working with culturally and linguistic diverse people, launching today.
Cultural approaches to death and dying – a toolkit for carers was developed by honours student Elizabeth Lambert under the supervision of Head of School, Nursing, Midwifery and Public Health Professor Karen Strickland, and Senior Lecturer Jo Gibson.
The toolkit, established to provide the best care for patients based on their cultural and religious backgrounds, was made possible by the Margaret Cordon Scholarship through Palliative Care ACT.
“We have been working with Palliative Care ACT on this toolkit, to support employed carers within the ACT community to provide culturally appropriate and safe care,” Ms Lambert said.
“This toolkit aims to educate carers of the importance of cultural considerations, improve communication skills, and empower carers to be advocates for the person receiving end of life care.
“Importantly, everyone within our community should have their end of life wishes respected and be able to die with dignity.”
After receiving her Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Canberra in 2019, Ms Lambert has worked as a Registered Nurse with Canberra Health Services, before returning to the University this year to undertake an honours course focused on palliative care.
Information in the toolkit was shaped by a series of focus groups held by Ms Lambert – and supervised by Ms Gibson and Professor Strickland – with people from multicultural backgrounds and cultural and religious faith leaders in Canberra.
Professor Strickland said that with over 200 different cultures represented in the ACT region, it was vital that palliative care workers were well equipped to deliver culturally appropriate care.
“Moving towards end of life is a time when things like specific religious rituals are particularly important to people, and if we don’t respect and support that expression at this time, it can lead to spiritual distress,” she said.
“This not only affects the individual but can also lead to spiritual distress and ongoing complexities for families and loved ones.
“It’s really important for carers to provide culturally safe and competent care that’s respectful of the religious and spiritual needs of the individual, no matter what background they are from.”
The resource, which was officially launched as part of National Palliative Care Week 2021 by ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith today, is the third toolkit in a series of resources from Palliative Care ACT.