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Learning 'The Ultimate Gift'

Learning ‘The Ultimate Gift’

We all have to face the death of a family member of friend at some time in our lives but do we have the skills to cope?

A woman who has made a career of caring for the dying and is now considered a world leader in her field is coming to Auckland to pass on her knowledge of caregiving and bereavement.

Author and clinician Barbara Monroe, CEO of St Christopher’s Hospice in London, widely regarded as the first of the modern hospices, is being brought to New Zealand as a Visiting Speaker by Mercy Hospice Auckland (formerly St Joseph’s Mercy Hospice). She will discuss ‘The Ultimate Gift’ – caring for someone who is dying - in a public lecture at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Epsom Girls Grammar School on 4 May at 7.30 pm.

Barbara Monroe has been a social worker for 25 years and as well as heading St Christopher’s, a hospice supporting 1800 people each year and caring for 48 hospice inpatients, she is Director of the Candle Project that helps young bereaved people in south London.

“Because Barbara Monroe has worked as a pioneer in the field of modern palliative care for many years we can all learn something from her about how best to care for people at the end of their life,” says Mercy Hospice Auckland Chief Executive Jan Nichols. “With our growing ageing population, communities need to know how to support people in the best ways at this time.

“We see some amazing examples of community support but also incidents where people are isolated and financially stretched when dying. Good palliative care is usually dependent on good family and community support combined with the skills of professional carers.

“As Barbara Monroe says; there’s nothing more precious than the ultimate gift of caring for someone you love when they are dying. We believe better education is one way to help those caring for terminally ill people and this is why we are supporting Barbara’s visit.

“Mercy Hospice Auckland staff care for 900 terminally ill patients each year and make around 10,000 home visits annually to people throughout Auckland, so we have a big role in educating and training people to care for people who are very ill or dying.”

The hospice is one of New Zealand’s largest and Auckland’s only specialist hospice providing a range of care including inpatient beds, 24-hour community care for terminally ill people, counselling and bereavement support.

Jan Nichols says Barbara Monroe’s lecture will be of considerable interest to anyone involved in caring for someone who is very ill and to people who have recently experienced a death of one of their family or friends.


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