The Compassionate Communities Project, delivered by Tea Tree Gully Council and supported by THRF Group Palliative Care, is pioneering a new way to create social connections, provide education and foster conversations around end-of-life.
The pilot program ran earlier this year offering 21 diverse activities to explore what worked best for the community.
This included Compassion Cafes, a Compassion Expo, a series of short videos, workshops, an online presence, focus groups and downloadable resources. The activities were tested in small groups to ensure everyone was able to participate and feel cared for when discussing emotive topics.
The purpose of Compassionate Communities was to co-design, develop and test new activities in death literacy and end-of-life preparation. The City of Tea Tree Gully had not actively participated in these spaces before, but the project proved to be much appreciated and deeply moving for both staff and the community. A staff member commented:
“I felt privileged to learn the stories of resilience, courage and strength from the participants. I now have a deeper understanding of the need to be able to have courageous conversations rather than sit in silence with our thoughts.”
By involving a diverse group of people, the program was able to support participants through their journey of understanding death and grief. Around half of the people who attended did not yet feel comfortable with the content but were seeking to learn. This was complemented by others who already felt more comfortable and were looking for assistance with end-of-life preparation.
Through these activities and interactions, many participants were able to become more comfortable in having courageous conversations. One person who attended the first Compassion Café then ventured to the Compassion Expo, which helped alleviate her fears about discussing her end-of-life wishes.
“I feel a little braver to start those conversations with my family now.”
The program has also helped people of different ages, with one parent having suffered a recent loss, attending the program with their 12-year-old son.
“The amazing activities that we have been able to come along to have made our grieving process so much less painful. We are so thankful to be part of Tea Tree Gully Council and have access to such supportive programs.”
The Compassionate Communities Project was truly embraced by the community, partner organisations and local business, with many sessions booked out and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback.
THRF Group Palliative Care, along with Palliative Care SA, is proud to support these innovative and impactful programs. We look forward to keeping you updated on how Compassionate Communities progresses.
“A compassionate city is a community that recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility.”
Professor Allan Kellehear, Compassionate Communities Founder