Preliminary work to the establishment of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief involved exploration of the public health and health promoting approach put forward by Professor Allan Kellehear, Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath.
Professor Kellehear has been instrumental in introducing the concept of health promoting palliative care to the UK at an academic level. He argues that death and loss should be more clearly recognised as an important public health issue in its own right. He emphasises the need for community support and for ‘death education’ to combat the prevailing ignorance and misconceptions around death, dying and bereavement.
Professor Kellehear draws on his practical experiences as Professor of Palliative Care and Director, Palliative Care Unit, School of Public Health, La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, to demonstrate in his publications and presentations the value of partnerships between palliative care and the wider community, showing how a practical health promoting palliative care approach can enhance the resilience of communities.
Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief believes that this approach is particularly relevant to Scotland.
A rapidly ageing population and shrinking workforce will challenge the capacity of institutions to care effectively for the number of people approaching death, and both personal preference and ‘shifting the balance of care’ policy tend toward the provision of more care at home.
If we are all to find the support we need at the end of our lives, individuals and communities of all kinds will need the knowledge, support and confidence to enable them to take more responsibility in providing care and support for those going through experiences of dying and bereavement.
Similar conclusions are expressed in the 2003 NHS Scotland and Scottish Health Council report The Fifth Wave: “Wellbeing in Scotland will be improved significantly when we can find ways to enable the care, compassion and energy of citizens to be expressed in, rather than excluded from, our civic life.”