22 May Death Over Dinner
Death as dinner conversation? You bet.
The way people are cared for when they are dying is important.
End of Life Care impacts everyone, at every age – the living, the dying and the bereaved.
It is not a response to a particular illness or condition. It is not limited to a particular group or section of the community. When it comes to death the statistics are clear. We all die.
This week the Australian Centre for Health Research (ACHR) is launching the Australian edition of Death Over Dinner (www.deathoverdinner.org.au).
It is a call to action for all Australians to start a conversation with their friends and family about death.
Death Over Dinner encourages Australians to throw the most important dinner party they’ll ever have, and works to bring people to the dinner table to create social change with the idea that dinners result in action and profound relationships between those who attend.
- Death Over Dinner is an interactive website dedicated to giving people the permission and the tools to discuss their choices and thoughts on end of life and End of Life Care with their friends and loved ones.
- It gives people the tools to make it easier, more meaningful, and the simple model transforms a challenging conversation into an inspiring one.
- With the support of government agencies, it has already inspired over 500,000 people in the USA to break bread and explore the many aspects of mortality, ageing, and the choices we face at the end of our lives.
People who commit to hosting a dinner are provided with resources including step-by-step guides developed to help people have “the conversation” about their preferences for End of Life Care.
Rebecca Bartel, The Executive Director of ACHR said,
“Talking about death is about planning for life – 70% of Australians want to die at home, but sadly less than 14% do.
“Conversations about End of Life Care often take place at a hospital in the midst of a crisis. Decisions have to be made quickly and under stress. This means many people die in a way they wouldn’t choose. Loved ones are left feeling guilty, bereaved and anxious.
“We invite Australia to have this conversation at the dinner table with their loved ones, not in the intensive care unit (ICU) after an emergency when it is too late.
“We believe that conversations about End of Life Care shouldn’t start with doctors in intensive care units when people are overwhelmed. They should start with family and friends while breaking bread.
“We are calling on all Australians to fill their table with food, family, and friends. Toast to life, honour loved ones who have died and ensure that everyone’s wishes for End of Life Care are expressed and respected with understanding and compassion.
“Our goal is to spark social change around the dinner table rather, kick start the national conversation about end of life wishes, and break the silence.”
Death Over Dinner originally launched in the USA in 2013, co-founded by Michael Hebb and Angelique Grant. It took America by surprise and then created a perfect storm. It has inspired more than half a million people to sit down to a meal and discuss end of life.
It has helped shift policy and funding for advance care conversations. It has driven uptake of advance care planning. Most importantly, it has had a major impact on families and put many patients back at the centre of their care at end of life.
Michael Hebb, the US Founder of Death Over Dinner said,
“Memories and menus are bound together in our emotional makeup – whether it’s the sausages on the BBQ or the Sunday night roast. We associate food with the people we love and those we have lost.
“We hope those who RSVP to a Death Over Dinner will celebrate life while talking about death. We know conversation can make all the difference, and good food and wine can make any topic more palatable.”
ACHR’s Australian National Survey of Public Attitudes Regarding End of Life Care results showed, 89 per cent of Australians say it’s important to talk about their End of Life Care wishes, yet few actually have that conversation.
The goal of Death Over Dinner is to change the nation’s culture from not talking about End of Life Care to talking about it – in thousands of kitchens, living rooms and staff rooms across the country.
For help to prepare your dinner, visit www.deathoverdinner.org.au
How Death Over Dinner works
- Go to www.deathoverdinner.org.au
- Plan your dinner
- Register your dinner
- You will receive an email with a draft an invitation and support materials including hosting tips and ice breakers to get the conversation started
- Invite your family and friends.
Ambassadors / Advisors
The Australian edition has an extraordinary array of ambassadors from medical experts including general practitioners and specialists, palliative care professionals, authors, curators, healthcare CEOs, policy makers, and artists to spark a powerful movement around facing death and planning for end of life. Some are facing their own life-limiting condition and the challenges that come with that.
Ambassadors include Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Osher Günsberg (TV Host), Ben Lee (Musician), Prof David Currow (Chief Cancer Officer of NSW), Prof John McNeil (Monash University), Dr Stephen Parnis (AMA), Prof Sanchia Aranda (CEO, Cancer Council Australia), Lyn Swinburne (Founder, Breast Cancer Network Australia), Dr Steve Hambleton (Chair, Primary Health Care Advisory Group) and Di Rule and more.