Our journey began in 1980. I was a palliative care physician and my husband Gerard was a cancer counsellor. One patient – let’s call him Bill – changed our way of thinking.
Bill’s sharing immediately connected with our deeply held conviction that the care of the dying person must change from an exclusively medical focus, to care in the home by family, friends and neighbours whereby all are enriched at this special time of life. He helped us to understand his desire to die in his own home with his family and friends gathered around him. We were convinced.
From that encounter and the experience of supporting Bill at home in his last days – a tipping point in Gerard’s and my careers – came the Dying at Home Program. Since 1980, Gerard and I have provided the Dying at Home Program (previously called Home Hospice) to hundreds of people who, approaching the end of life have wished to be at home with family and friends and to have the support necessary to enable this to happen.By using the Dying At Home Program, people grow to experience the richness and significance of precious remaining life and those around them come to learn the love and joy of caring. The dying person, actively involved, is the catalyst for compassion that extends into the community.
We now provide Dying at Home training programs internationally. With Kathleen Dansie we have trained hundreds of people to teach this unique program to family caregivers, from Limpopo District South Africa to Chin State Myanmar, Timor Leste and Wuxi China. Requests are made through www.dyingathome.org.
The Dying at Home Program has been recognised in international circles palliative care circles. In countries where Hospice or Palliative Care community teams already operate, our program works alongside. Our program however works even in settings where palliative care is not widely available.
Many community organisations, individuals, doctors and others are urging us to relearn the lost art of caring for the dying. Dying at Home is our answer to that urging.