An initiative to reduce the number of older people in residential aged care dying alone has launched in Perth.
Amana Living has created the ‘No One Dies Alone Companion’ (NODAC) project which will see the organisation recruit 12 volunteers for a pilot. The project will start at Lady McCusker Home in Duncraig where around 10 per cent of residents died alone or with little family support in the last six months.
The NODAC volunteers will be part of a team whose role will include being present with the resident at the end of their life, having conversations, holding their hand, reading aloud from favourite books, and providing a calming environment through music and lighting. A vigil will start when the resident becomes terminal and each volunteer will take part in a four-hour vigil shift until the resident passes away.
The project is based on a similar approach used in hospitals and hospices. It is modelled on the successful No One Dies Alone (NODA) program at the Assisi Hospice in Singapore, and draws on the experience of the hospice unit at Busselton Health Campus. These programs were identified by Amana Living registered nurse Elizabeth Mistry who has been a champion of the NODAC project.
Stephanie Buckland, CEO of Amana Living, said: “We look after the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our residents from the moment they join us to the time they leave. This involves providing critical support and comfort to them as they reach the end of their life.
“Sadly, some of our residents don’t have relatives or friends who can spend time with them in their final days. They might be estranged from their family or have outlived them, or the family doesn’t live nearby. The No One Dies Alone Companion volunteers will provide compassionate support and human connection to our residents in their last moments on Earth.”
Recruitment for the NODAC volunteers will begin in December. Training will commence in February 2020 with volunteers starting in their role at the end of March / early April 2020.
The project will identify residents at Lady McCusker Home who want to participate in the project through conversations with them about their end of life wishes. Ideally this will happen when residents first move into the care centre to allow time for the companions to form a relationship and bond with the residents.
Volunteers who sign-up to the NODAC project will be supported by a dedicated Amana Living NODAC coordinator, Volunteer Services Coordinator, and the Chaplaincy Services team. Volunteers will also be part of the Employee Assistance Program, which includes access to confidential counselling.
Due to an overwhelming response, all volunteer positions are now filled for this project. However, to find out more about other opportunities please contact Amana Living via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Volunteer Services Coordinator on 9424 6335.