For National Palliative Care Week 2018 nurses have a key role in encouraging and educating Australians in conversations that consider “What matters most?”

“Many of us are hesitant to start a conversation about the decisions on where we wish to die, and when to die,” said Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN.

“Nurses are advocates for individual patients and their communities and we have found that choice and dignity are priorities when it comes to end-of-life decision making.”

Figures from a survey conducted this week by Palliative Care Australia found 34 per cent of Australians found end of life options a difficult conversation to start, while 26 per cent had talked about their wishes for end of life with their family.

“Nurses are fundamental to these conversations as we are able to appropriately inform and support patients on their palliative care options. By having these conversations, Australians can be better prepared when the time comes,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.

“Older Australians are increasingly expressing their preference to age in place, which we now know to extend to being supported to die at home. This should be reflected in health care funding and training.

“Our health system must cater for individual patient choice, ensure people’s wishes are respected, and clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of health care professionals.”


  1. I think this issue of having “that” conversation will be brought into an even sharper relief in 2019 when Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation becomes implemented. Australian Nursing is on the threshold of new training and guidance requirements to help nurses reflect on their own motivations and for employers to support nurses where this practice will be available.
    The focus of my PhD work is to identify types of response intentions to patient requests for an assisted death, and the psychosocial determinants of how nurses intend to respond.

    • Hi Michelle, Thanks for you comment. Be sure to fill us in on the outcomes of your thesis – I’m sure our readers would love to read an article on it.

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