Study looks at cost of dying

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 07:34 25/01/2013
Cost of Dying
SEEKING STORIES: Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell is looking for participants for a study into the financial costs of end-of-life care.

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Dying can be an expensive process - Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell should know.

The researcher has recently completed a three-year Health Research Council-funded study into Maori experiences of dying, Kia Ngawari .

The study revealed that poverty often plays a factor in the type of care and resources people can access.

"One gentleman, when I visited him, had all his medicines lined up on the table. What he was actually doing was working out which tablets would last him until benefit day and which ones he didn't have enough money to buy," she says.

"He was going to talk to the pharmacist to see if he could buy just enough tablets to get him through to payday because he couldn't afford to buy whole boxes, even with the government subsidy."

Now Dr Moeke-Maxwell is seeking more stories on dying for a new research project which focuses on the financial costs whanau experience when providing care to someone in the last year of life.

She's the Maori lead researcher for the project, a collaboration between Auckland University and the Auckland District Health Board's palliative care team, which is being headed by Professor Merryn Gott.

Dr Moeke-Maxwell, of Ngai Tai Umupuia and Ngati Pukeko, wants to hear from Maori individuals or whanau who are providing care to a family member with a life-limiting illness or disease.

She's also interested in hearing from families who provided care to someone who died in the past 12 months.

The research is "groundbreaking" because previous studies have focused on the financial costs associated with palliative care from a healthcare provider's perspective, such as hospitals and hospices, rather than that of families, she says.

Findings will help to develop a tool to measure the financial costs and impact of caregiving on families, which will in turn help to contribute to the development of new policies so service providers can better care for families at end of life.

It's important Maori experiences are heard because there are often cultural obligations and commitments that other cultures might not share, Dr Moeke-Maxwell says.

"For kaumatua or Maori elder for example, they often have a responsibility to pass on ancestral knowledge and ancestral taonga or treasures.

"They might live in Auckland but their ancestral homeland is somewhere else, therefore they have to travel back there to discuss important matters.

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"Maori often have multiple ancestral lands, homes and graveyards so these types of decisions take time to work through."

Other financial costs might include loss of employment for the unwell person and their caregiver, medications, hospital equipment, transport and cultural expenses related to end of life cultural and spiritual matters.

Whanau are invited to participate in a one-off, face-to-face interview with Dr Moeke-Maxwell in their homes or at a time and place suitable to them. Contact Dr Moeke-Maxwell by phone or text message on 021 240 4666 or email t.moeke-maxwell@auckland. ac.nz to find out more.

- Western Leader

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