by Colleen Fitzpatrick

Lutheran aged-care providers rejoice in the gift of life and are committed to enriching and enhancing the life experience of those under their care. To this end, they support the physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and social or family wellbeing of each person they care for.

When people approach the end of life, they need more focused care from medical professionals, nurses, carers, chaplains and family.

Our services straddle both the left-hand and the right-hand kingdoms as spelt out in our theology. We are bound by the rules and regulations of government, but our work is undergirded by our theology and ethos as articulated in the publications God’s love – our care and Called to Tansformative Action, which can be found on the Ministry with the Ageing website at

It is important to plan for the end of one’s life and to provide good palliative care for people approaching death and their families – care that addresses all the person’s needs and ensures that those close to them are aware of what is happening and how they can be part of the end-of-life process.

Palliative care is part of the core business of Lutheran aged care, with maximum physical comfort being the goal and so that a person nearing the end of their life need not fear the loss of control.

Significant also to palliative care provision is the need for the person approaching the end of life to be able to make choices. Such choices should be documented in Advance Care Directives and in care plans so that the provision of care can fulfil them. Nursing and care staff and chaplains are part of this care and are blessed to share this intimate journey with people in our aged-care services.

Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) has been on the agenda of Australian and New Zealand governments for some time. It has been legalised in Victoria and will become legal in Western Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, so it is possible that people cared for within Lutheran aged-care services will want to implement it.

In such a case, while the LCANZ does not support VAD, we will continue to provide respectful, non-judgemental and loving care and compassion. Staff or volunteers may choose to be present at the time of death, but they cannot be required to be present and no staff or volunteer may assist with the process of VAD.

Regardless of the situation, it is always important that we treat people in our care in a way that both respects them and allows God’s love to come to life as they approach their death.

Colleen Fitzpatrick is chair of the LCANZ’s Committee for Ministry with the Ageing and also a member of the Governance Enhancement Committee for Lutheran Aged Care and Community Services. She was the project officer for the development of God’s love – our care and Called to Transformative Action.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full