How Film Brings to Light The Importance of Palliative Care and Discussing End of Life.

Categories: Education.

Palliative care is a vital program for those entering the final chapter of life. But because of its relationship with death and the dying, many misunderstand the important role it plays in discussing end-of-life wishes with friends and loved ones. A new Australian impact film is aiming to change that.

Though not the most conventional strategy to advocate for health services, film stories are  becoming increasingly important in communicating complex health messages. Impact films are powerful in their ability to shape public opinion. Film not only allows viewers into the room with somebody receiving palliative care, but allows them to experience how palliative care supports the individual, their family and community in an engaging and thought provoking manner.

“At the beginning of life in Australia we have preparation for birth classes, we have support throughout the birth, and we have post-natal support,” said CEO of Palliative Care Australia, Camilla Rowland. “Drawing a comparison, we say that we don’t expect people with a life-limiting illness to die alone.”

Palliative Care Australia found that 88% of Australians think it’s important to actively consider and discuss their needs and desires for their care, if they were to became seriously ill. However, only 50% of Australians have actually had these discussions.

“Palliative care delivers quality-of-life to people when they’ve received a life-limiting diagnosis,” continued Rowland. “It provides treatment for symptoms, it addresses pain and psychological distress as well as spatial issues. It can occur to the person with a life-limiting illness, as well as to their family and carers.”

A new feature documentary film Live the life you please is bringing these issues to light. Releasing in May of 2023, Live the life you please is a film-led campaign that presents a collection of remarkable and uplifting stories from across Australia in the hopes to encourage important conversations about end-of-life and to advocate for increased access to palliative care services.

It’s clear the power that film holds when you watch Alex, Leila and Russell’s story Spiritual care at the end of life. In their story, Alex is presented as nothing shorter than an inspiring individual who adored giving back to his community. One of the ways he gave back was by purchasing an old paper mill and rescuing it from being turned into a container depot.

What makes this already special story unique – is that Alex completed much of the restoration while in the palliative care program. Through the support of his wife Leila and Spiritual Care worker Russell, Alex turned the run down mill into an arts and culture precinct that can be enjoyed by all of the locals.

Initially, Alex was quite hesitant to get involved with Russell, as he was concerned that ‘spiritual care’ may be too religious for his liking. However, after some brief conversations this thought was quickly squandered.

“A person’s spirituality is about what gives life meaning and purpose,” illustrated Russell. “I’m an ear to chew, a shoulder to cry on; the deep thoughts that keep them awake at night, I’m a safe person to unpack that stuff with.”

The misunderstanding that spiritual care is religious is a common one and often a barrier to people accessing spiritual care. Alex’s story allows the audience to see how spiritual care is accessed through palliative care and end-of-life by taking them on a journey and showing rather than telling them about the life affirming work that is achieved through spiritual care and the palliative care program.

“I could talk to Russell like any other person,” reiterated Alex. “That’s all I needed.”

Alex has since passed away, but his wife Leila described his death as peaceful and affirmed the important role palliative care played in his last chapter.

Watch ‘Spiritual Care at the end of life’

Alex’s journey is one of many unique and impactful stories that champion palliative care in Live the life you please. To discover more stories and see the film, visit

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