People with diverse cultural backgrounds and needs may want to access health care and services that understand the way their culture feels about dying.
Specialised care services connect people from The Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community with doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, liaison officers and other health professionals who are able to provide care that suits their specific needs.
To provide appropriate clinical encounters, palliative care workers must take note of cultural considerations that affect all clinical interactions, some of which are relevant to situations of death and dying.
There may be a family spokesperson or decision makers who are not the terminally ill person, and the patient may choose not to discuss death or dying with health care professionals. The patient may request that the family spokesperson or decision makers be the ones to receive information, make decisions, and act and speak on their behalf. Health care professionals will need to establish and clearly document all the key people and their contact details to ensure they are consulted on all matters relating to the health care of the patient.
Health care professionals and carers need to be mindful of cultural differences in communicating, such as direct eye contact, silences during conversations and the appropriate seating arrangement.
The Australian Government-Department of Health website has a Resource Kit to assist individuals or organisations that are providing care for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people to provide culturally appropriate end of life care.