LET’S TALK ABOUT DYING
For most of us, thinking about death is difficult and talking about it harder still.
Because of this we speak of it in whispers, or avoid the subject altogether. This seems respectful, but often leads to distress.
At LifeCircle, we believe dying should be discussed openly. This requires delicacy of course, but anyone who has had ‘that conversation’ knows the sense of relief it brings.
When asked, 80% of people in Australia say they would rather die peacefully at home, yet only 20% actually do so. There can be many reasons for this, but if you have at least talked, you can plan and prepare accordingly.
Talking about dying can also encourage rich and valuable discussion about what really matters in life. It can deepen our relationships.
So few of us are truly prepared to care for someone who is dying. At LifeCircle, our role is to help bridge that gap. Learn more about Ann’s story in our three part documentary series, Conversations at the end of Life which explores the lived experience of dying.
Created with the generous support of the Snow Foundation.
AT THE END OF LIFE
The subject of dying is one that most of us tend to avoid. And yet death is one of the only truly universal human experiences. If we are to improve the experience of death and dying, and truly support the circle of people who find themselves caring for the dying, then we need to plan and be prepared.
It begins with Honesty & Conversation at the end of life. Embracing the importance of talking about dying. It enables us to plan & prepare. It helps us to really understand what is important in life.
Central to that preparation is Accompaniment & Support. Helping helping people build and maintain a unified circle of care, support and accompaniment around the dying at the end of life.
And while confronting, it’s important to start thinking about the end early on. It’s never too soon to start Planning & Preparing, ensuring that the end of life comes with dignity and empowerment for the dying.
At LifeCircle, we believe dying should be discussed openly. By opening the conversation around dying, people are better informed and have more choice and control in the final stages of life.
WHY WE EXIST
WE WANT DYING TO BE UNDERSTOOD AS A
NATURAL PART OF LIFE
Although our lives naturally come to an end, looking after someone who is dying does not come naturally. It takes knowledge and experience most of us have not acquired. Unless you’re medically trained – even if you are – caring for someone who is dying can be confronting.
As a result of this ‘experience gap’, as a society we require hospitals to play a major role in the dying process. Many people end their lives there, whether or not it was their wish to do so.
LifeCircle exists to help bridge this experience gap around dying, so people are better informed and have more choice and control over what happens at the end of someone’s life.
We cannot change the fact that sooner or later we die. What we can change is our attitude to dying and our ability to cope with the experience.
WHAT WE DO
WE SUPPORT THE CIRCLE
OF PEOPLE WHO CARE
LifeCircle’s work has three critical areas of focus.
Firstly, we connect people who are caring for a dying family member or friend to information and advice to help them make choices about end of life matters.
We can draw on the wisdom of many people who have ‘been there before’, as well as a wealth of existing information – from advice on palliative care to ideas on making the most of the final days of life.
Our role is to be the circle that connects all these resources, as well as being a valuable contributor ourselves.
Secondly, we enhance the capacity of carers and families to care for themselves and care for each other, as well as caring for the person who is dying.
We do this through a range of strategic partnerships and collaborations with organisations who share our belief.
And thirdly, we continue to work to remove the social stigma around dying, to bring it into the open and accepted as a natural part of life.
HOW WE WORK
LifeCircle’s emotive and empathetic view on dying, and how to help people through the lived experience of dying, forms the basis of our acumen and IP. It is remarkably unique both as a philosophy and as a business model. No other organisation in this country can lay claim to a similar range of acumen.
LifeCircle’s work is not clinically focused, nor it is centred on the practical processes around end of life such as estate planning. We believe these aspects of dying are very important, but that practical support of this kind is already available through other organisations.
Our focus is on the social, emotional and human aspects of dying. This is where we believe most of the work needs to be done. We design and implement solutions that change the experience of dying for people. We facilitate, connect and build capacity for the circle of people who care for the person who is dying (the circle of care). The circle of care may include families, friends, customers, employees, volunteers, staff and the broader community.
Our business model centres on the formation of strategic partnerships with large, aligned operating entities whose businesses intersect in some way with end of life – Aged Care, Professional & Financial Services, Insurance and Health Services.
These partnerships are key to our achieving impact and scale. Our strategic partners have the expertise & resources required to deliver HCD-led end of life solutions for their clients, customers, employees, volunteers, staff and the broader community. They are able to commit funding for a minimum of 3 years ($500k -$1Million over 3 years).
Importantly our partners come to the table with a salient generosity of spirit around this work. Our partnerships are on a non-exclusive basis and our partners support the leveraging and commercialization of the solutions across other aligned businesses, within their industries. In this way our partners commit to building LifeCircle’s capacity.
Shared value is an important strategic driver for our partnerships. Our co-design solutions help our partners create measurable business value by identifying and addressing the social, emotional and human problems associated with the end of life that intersect with their business.
Each of our strategic partners has identified a shared value component to their partnership with LifeCircle.
This model makes transparent the value and the impact that LifeCircle and their partners each seek to achieve.
We are committed to co-designing & delivering solutions with our partners to help their target group within the circle of care. We use the Human Centred Design (HCD) methodology. This creative approach to problem solving starts with the people we are designing for and ends with new solutions that deliver real benefits to them.
We listen, design, listen, learn, build, test, listen, learn, scale and revise again to arrive at surprising, effective, innovative and impactful solutions.
We know that the end of life experiences that people aspire to have, and the experiences that play out, can be vastly different and highly personal. HCD methodologies help us to understand more deeply the complexities of the experience of dying, the individual events that impact people at this time and what is required for people to close this gap. We also know that it is difficult for people to find ways to learn from others who have experience of caring for someone who is dying. Most often this experience is not shared with others, and the learning and knowledge is lost. Through all of our work we are committed to help people continuously learn from the experience of others who have been there before them (both positive and negative) to help them build their own capacity, resilience and mental models for success.
Our partnership approach and Human Centred Design methodology means that we operate with a small, core team. We leverage the expertise within our partners and consultants in both the design and delivery phases. The requirements to ensure sustainability and viability of the solutions we implement are incorporated in the design and are evaluated in the review process (through the shared value approach).
With this lean agile structure we can respond quickly to new strategic or market opportunities that arise, in service of our purpose.
The solutions designed for people in the circle of care are reliant on two methods of delivery that work together to deliver & scale LifeCircle’s impact and purpose. The first is the person-to-person contact through developing capacity in the partner organisations to help staff, customers, clients & volunteers to help themselves & each other when caring for someone who is dying. Our co-design solutions with our partners are primarily focused in this arena.
The second method of delivery is through the digital channel. LifeCircle recognizes that we have a significant opportunity to increase our reach and scale through a digital platform. The digital channel also allows LifeCircle to build a community around end of life issues and experiences that leads to conversation, connection and capacity and ensures that knowledge gained by those who have experience in supporting people who are dying is shared and grows.
The digital platform will also allow us to reinvent the role that our Community Mentors used to hold by offering expert, mentor-led support, facilitation and advice provided on an individual needs-based level, through a moderated 24-7 digital platform. We are exploring the role of new technologies in providing the ‘sweet spot’ between human conversations and digital interactions.
We operate with the discipline and focus of a commercial business, ensuring our activities deliver on our purpose and our resources are well managed.
The greater the change around attitudes to and the experience of dying the better we are performing.
LifeCircle has two funding streams. The primary funding stream is through our strategic partnerships with funds allocated to delivery of the shared value outcomes. Our secondary funding stream is philanthropic funding and in-kind/pro-bono support to cover overheads, such as the core team, rent, admin fundraising & partnership development expenses.
We are wholly independent and receive no government funding. Over 50% of our overheads are provided on a pro- bono, or lo-bono basis, by organisations and individuals who are deeply committed to our cause.
LifeCircle is governed by a dynamic mix of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and sector and industry specialists. Collectively we are driven by personal experience, a deep commitment to the impact we are creating and extensive knowledge of the sectors and industries most aligned with end of life – Aged Care, Professional & Financial Services, Insurance and Health Services.
OUR STRATEGIC PARTNERS
We work with organisations that share our beliefs.
We have a number of strategic partners who support our vision of an Australia where dying is more openly discussed, better prepared for and less institutionalised. They also agree that carers should be strongly empowered and consequently more resilient.
These partners include:
We work with facilitators, connectors and capacity builders around death and dying for the circle of people they work with and for: clients, customers, employees, volunteers and the broader community.
LifeCircle is funded primarily through these strategic partnerships. We are wholly independent and receive no additional government funding.
LifeCircle has the Vice Regal Patronage of Mrs Linda Hurley, wife of His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), the 38th Governor of New South Wales.
Mrs Hurley has a keen interest in pastoral and palliative care. Mrs Hurley’s biography can be found here.
LifeCircle is governed by a dynamic mix of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and industry specialists.
There is a huge worldwide online community who appreciate a diversity of content about issues around death and dying. We have included links to some of the most informative and useful articles and video extracts, below.
LifeCircle posts intelligent, informative and topical posts through our facebook page. We welcome you to follow our posts and contribute to our conversations.