Homepage, News

Disabled people find public transport in Wellington and Auckland ‘too hard’ to use

by Michael Forbes, Stuff, 1 December 2015

A first-of-its-kind survey by the CCS Disability Action Group has revealed that less than 20 per cent of disabled people in Wellington and Auckland find it easy accessing and using public transport.

Common complaints include buses not stopping for people with wheelchairs and guide dogs, buses being too painful to step on and off because they don’t “kneel”, poorly-designed footpaths making stops inaccessible, and poorly constructed timetables making trips difficult to plan.

As a result, the study found disabled people were partaking in activities such as grocery shopping, visiting parks and meeting friends at cafes or restaurants far less often than able-bodied people were.

Click here to read the full article.

Homepage, News

Belgium’s euthanasia utopia: “everything is neat and clean and terrible.”

by Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 22 June 2015

The story of how Tom Mortier’s mother was euthanised by Dr Wim Distelmans for depression.

In Belgium and in the Netherlands, where patients can be euthanized even if they do not have a terminal illness, the laws seem to have permeated the medical establishment more deeply than elsewhere, perhaps because of the central role granted to doctors: in the majority of cases, it is the doctor, not the patient, who commits the final act. In the past five years, the number of euthanasia and assisted-suicide deaths in the Netherlands has doubled, and in Belgium it has increased by more than a hundred and fifty per cent. Although most of the Belgian patients had cancer, people have also been euthanized because they had autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindness coupled with deafness, and manic depression. In 2013, Wim Distelmans euthanized a forty-four-year-old transgender man, Nathan Verhelst, because Verhelst was devastated by the failure of his sex-change surgeries; he said that he felt like a monster when he looked in the mirror.

Click here to read the full article.

Homepage, News

The Compassion & Choices California Playbook

by Phil Galewitz, USA Today, 14 November 2015

Personal stories will continue to make the difference in getting lawmakers’ support, said Barbara Coombs Lee, the group’s president. “Individual stories are always what move people because they think ‘Oh, but for the grace of God, go I,’” Coombs Lee said. “We have been so fortunate to have the resources to take the charge Brittany gave us and use it to see new laws passed….It has been nothing short of a miracle.”

In addition to generating news coverage, the organization directed funds to California, too. In 2014 and 2015, it spent $150,000 on online advertising and other types of outreach, and $500,000 on focus groups, polling and other efforts to sway lawmakers and public opinion in the state, the group said.

Click here to read the full article.

Homepage, News

The first person I had to tell they were dying was my father, I’ll never forget it.

by Associate Professor Richard Chye, director of palliative care St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 2015

Because we avoid death, it is hard to know what we might want when confronted by its reality. When considering death in the abstract, it might seem euthanasia is a good way for Australia to head, but I am concerned we are too caught up with our “right” to die, while not investing in the system that helps us live as well as possible before we die.

I agree there are problems with how Australians are dying, but I think access to good-quality palliative care can change that. Australians want to die at home but need better support services to do so. Carers need respite and your postcode often determines access to services. These are the rights we are currently denied. This is what we should be getting up in arms about.

Click here to read the full article.

Homepage, News

Chair of Belgian Right to die with dignity association referred to judiciary in death of healthy 85-year-old woman

by HOPE Australia, 29 October 2015

For the very first time since the Belgian euthanasia law was introduced in 2002, the Belgian Euthanasia Commission has referred a reported euthanasia case to the judiciary for review. It relates to the death of 85-year-old Simona de Moor, a physically healthy woman, whose story featured in a Dateline documentary aired in Australia in September.

The doctor involved is Marc van Hoey, chair of the Belgian Right to die with dignity association. In 2013 he was interviewed by the Canadian National Post:

Marc Van Hoey, a physician who performs euthanasia and is head of the Flemish death-with-dignity association, said there has been a shift toward euthanasia of what he called the high elderly. “Recently I went to see a lady of 95 years old, sitting in a nursing home all by herself. All her friends and family had died. The only people she had good contact with were the nursing team. She said every evening she goes to bed, she hopes, ‘Don’t let me wake up any more,’ ” he said. He told her she was a candidate for euthanasia.

Click here to read the full article.

Homepage, News

New Zealand ranked 3rd best in world for palliative care

by Care Alliance, 9 October 2015

New Zealand is the third best country in the world for palliative care, according to a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The United Kingdom and Australia are ranked first and second respectively, and Ireland is fourth. The United States is ninth.The report considered data in five categories to decide an overall Quality of Death Index:

  • Palliative and healthcare environment
  • Human resources
  • Affordability of care
  • Quality of care
  • Community engagement

Matthew Jansen of the Care Alliance said:

The report shows that New Zealanders can have confidence that high-quality palliative care is available, but there is no room for complacency as our population ages. New Zealand can improve its performance further with extra government funding, as well as more training for the palliative care workforce we will need in the future.

Homepage, News

Most families are loving and caring. But sadly some are not.

by Baroness Ilora Finlay, President of the British Medical Association, The Economist, 22 June 2015

Jenny (not her real name) was a week or so short of her sixtieth birthday when she came into the hospice. She had advanced cancer and she, and her family, knew the end was close. And her family were devoted. Not a day went by without one or more of them at her bedside.

We stabilised Jenny’s condition; she was comfortable, more independent and able to have quality time with her family. And, as often happens with good palliative care, the prospect of her imminent death receded. Then came her birthday. It was a muted affair, but understandably so as it was clearly her last.

But then the family visits gradually fell away. “It’s a pity your family can’t come so often these days,” one of the nurses said to Jenny. “Oh,” she replied. “They won’t be in so much now. You see, my fixed-term life insurance expired on my birthday.”

This isn’t the only time I’ve been fooled. Most patients’ families are loving and caring. But sadly some are not, and they are not the rare exception.

Click here to read the full article.

Homepage, News

My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life.

by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Cape Cod Times, 27 October 2012

When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he had only two to four months to live, that he’d never go back to the U.S. Senate, that he should get his affairs in order, kiss his wife, love his family and get ready to die.

But that prognosis was wrong. Teddy lived 15 more productive months. During that time, he cast a key vote in the Senate that protected payments to doctors under Medicare; made a speech at the Democratic Convention; saw the candidate he supported elected president of the United States and even attended his inauguration; received an honorary degree; chaired confirmation hearings in the Senate; worked on the reform of health care; threw out the first pitch on opening day for the Red Sox; introduced the president when he signed the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act; sailed his boat; and finished his memoir “True Compass,” while also getting his affairs in order, kissing his wife, loving his family and preparing for the end of life.

Because that first dire prediction of life expectancy was wrong, I have 15 months of cherished memories — memories of family dinners and songfests with our children and grandchildren; memories of laughter and, yes, tears; memories of life that neither I nor my husband would have traded for anything in the world.

Click here to read the full article.