good life, good death, good grief

Defining and explaining 'public health palliative care'

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief is part of the international Public Health Palliative Care movement, and we aim to contribute to and learn from international developments in the field.

'Public Health Palliative Care' (PHPC) aims to understand and influence the social and structural factors that affect people’s experiences of death, dying, loss and care.

It is based on a belief that death, dying, loss and care are experiences shaped by all aspects of society including culture, economics, politics, schools, workplaces, communities and the media.

Therefore, though clinical and therapeutic interventions provided by formal health and social care services are recognised as essential in improving experiences, a PHPC approach looks further upstream and across the whole population, to how factors such as education, financial hardship, health/death literacy, and social support, can impact on the experiences someone has around deteriorating health, dying and bereavement. 

PHPC is a broad field that encompasses work to effect change in a range of areas. For example, how can public policies make better provision for people who are caring, dying or grieving? How can cultures and opportunities be created so that matters relating to serious illness, dying and bereavement can be discussed and acted upon? How can communities of all kinds be strengthened with knowledge, skills, networks, resources, confidence and opportunities to support each other? What information and education will allow people to develop their personal skills and knowledge of these issues? What inequalities exist in people’s experiences and how can these be addressed? 

PHPC is particularly associated with approaches such as community development, health promotion and public education. Prominent initiatives include death cafes and compassionate communities work, but PHPC encompasses much more than this including: death education courses; public awareness campaigns; funeral poverty initiatives; lobbying for policy changes; encouraging future care planning; death education and bereavement support in schools; compassionate workplace projects and more. The variety of approaches and areas of activity where change is needed means that many different institutions and communities have roles to play in PHPC.

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