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Plan to create Compassionate Communities in the north

Published 17 January 2023

Groups to offer grass roots level care to elderly and dying people


Moves are underway by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) to build Compassionate Communities involving everyday people playing a role in the care and support of people as they age, those at or near the end of their lives, and those who are grieving a lost one.

Compassionate Communities is a globally recognised approach to improving the end-of-life experience for people by establishing local networks, groups, and services to be more conscious, aware, and equipped to offer support.

NQPHN Chief Executive Officer Robin Whyte said the Compassionate Communities initiative mobilises the community to provide support for the frail and elderly.

“Building Compassionate Communities follows the principle that it is impossible to have hospices built in every suburb, hence the community will be mobilised to do our bit for the frail and elderly who live alone, people with life-limiting illnesses, and for people who are grieving,” said Ms Whyte.

“They are not on their own. They are part of us. We have the responsibility to play our part for them as a community.”

NQPHN is currently calling for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from a wide range of organisations to help create Compassionate Communities.

“We have received interest from councils, neighbourhood/community centres, community groups, service providers, local businesses, civic organisations, and interested individuals. But we still need more,” said Ms Whyte.

“At NQPHN, we are seeking expressions of interest from people to become Health Community Connectors who are community-minded individuals passionate about engaging with community members on identifying and signposting vulnerable people to groups, services, and other supports that either formally or informally address end of life care, grief, and bereavement.

“Some examples of these services and supports may include palliative care, support groups, social clubs, community services, and any other type of helpful supports. Health community connectors maybe retired professionals, health or community services professionals, and caregivers among others.

“Health Community Connectors are hairdressers, taxi drivers, café staff, aged care workers, teenagers, students, choir group members, community workers, business owners, librarians, social workers, neighbours, commuters … anyone really.”

Ms Whyte said that Palliative Care Queensland, in collaboration with NQPHN, was already currently rolling out the connecting end-of-life care project and compassionate community conversations in Townsville, with the city currently developing its charter as a Compassionate City.

​The plan is to create three Compassionate Communities each in Cairns and Hinterland, Cape and Torres, and Mackay.

Ms Whyte said in 2021, the Groundswell Project was commissioned to deliver the program in Central Queensland, Wide Bay, and Sunshine Coast as part of Primary Health Networks – Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care pilot funding.

There are now nine Compassionate Communities in Central Queensland, Wide Bay, and Sunshine Coast with more than 200 community connectors trained to offer support.

“We are hoping to replicate the same in northern Queensland,” said Ms Whyte.

NQPHN is holding a series of Health Community Connectors workshops throughout North Queensland during January to March 2023. These workshops are for anyone wanting to be part of the Compassionate Communities movement. More information on each workshop including registration details can be found at the links below:

Last updated: 21 February 2023