The Dignified Farewell and Memorial program helps residents and staff deal more openly with the often sensitive but ever-present issue of death.
The conventional approach to death in nursing homes is to remove the deceased’s body quickly, with little or no communication to other residents. Farmborough Unanderra staff are doing things differently.
According to Service Manager Jill Harvey the Dignified Farewell and Memorial Project challenges the way things are usually done, by honouring and giving farewell and tributes to residents who have passed.
“Our farewell gives residents, staff and family members the time to pay their respects and gain closure – everyone should be acknowledged and given a dignified farewell.
“At Farmborough, when a resident dies everyone has the opportunity to say their goodbyes. We form a guard of honour with staff and family members, as the deceased is taken out the front door. We play music, a ceremonial quilt is placed on the body, and we set up a memorial table in honour of their life,” Ms Harvey says.
After one resident, Iris, who was farewelled recently, their family commented, “The guard of honour you provided for Iris as she departed was greatly appreciated by all the family. It was a perfect gesture to her.”
Residents, staff and volunteers have responded positively to the program with one staff member saying: “I have always loved the thought of taking a moment to remember those who have passed. The memorial table has provided a respectful way to do this.”
A volunteer at the nursing home says the memorial table helped her to “prepare for meetings and conversations during the day, deal with possible grief and acknowledge those who had passed away”.
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency awarded the program a Better Practice Award, which celebrates innovative projects, initiatives or programs in the sector.