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Who's that sitting in Mary's chair?

In order to ensure that practices and rituals around dying, death and grief in residential care are meaningful for residents, families, staff and organisations, a number of issues need to be addressed and policies and practice should align with a person centred approach to care both before and after death. Utilising the arts to assist in acknowledging the death, creating meaningful rituals that inform and support families, staff and other residents and creating memorials that acknowledge the contribution of the person who has died to the life of the retirement or residential facility create both challenges and opportunities for staff and the wider community. How can the arts be used as a vehicle for engaging residents and their families in meaningful conversations about mortality, personal values/wishes and legacy? This presentation will explore potential approaches to normalising and acknowledging the death of a resident but equally importantly, the life they lived.

Molly CarlileMolly Carlile

Molly has extensive senior management and executive experience in both rural and metropolitan health services. She has a clinical background in specialist palliative care nursing, counselling and education. Molly was the manager of the largest palliative care consortium in Victoria and is now Manager of Palliative Care Services at Austin Health where her role includes integrating palliative care into the new Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre, opened in July 2012. Molly is the inaugural Manager of Arts in Healthcare for Cancer Services that involves the development of an integrated arts program as part of the new Cancer Centre. She has recently been appointed Honorary Research Fellow for Latrobe University, Melbourne.

Molly sits on a number of Victorian Department of Health advisory committees in addition to representing the sector in numerous policy and strategic development initiatives locally, nationally and internationally. She is Chair of the North and West Metropolitan Region Palliative Care Consortium in Victoria and is an inaugural member of the board of the Australian Centre for Arts and Health.

In her role as "Deathtalker", Molly regularly speaks about death and dying issues in the community, in the media and in the health and education sectors, regularly appearing on both television and national radio. She is Ambassador for "Dying to Know Day" a national day of action launched in 2013 and occurring on August 8th each year, that encourages communities to be empowered to have meaningful conversations about life, death and grief.

A published author, her first book, "Jelly Bean's Secret", published in 2005 has been used widely as a tool for introducing the concept of death and grief to children and her latest book, "Sometimes Life Sucks" published in August 2010, addresses the complex needs of young adults when experiencing death and loss.

Molly has embraced the use of the arts as a vehicle for empowering people to talk about death and grief in order to build informed, supportive communities. To this end, she collaborated with celebrated Australian author and playwright, Alan Hopgood on the play, "Four Funerals in One Day" which continues to tour to great public acclaim. Their new play "The Empty Chair" which explores grief, dementia and family is touring nationally.

Molly has spoken at over 70 national and international conferences. She has also been a guest at a number of writer's festivals. Molly delivered the 11th Annual Vivian Bullwinkel Memorial Oration in 2012. She was the recipient of a 2008 Churchill Fellowship, awarded the inaugural Arts and Health Australia Award for Health Promotion in 2009 and was presented with the International Journal of Palliative Nursing Educator of the Year 2012 Award in London. Recently she received the 2012 Deakin University and Health Super Award for Leadership in Nursing and Midwifery Award in addition to the Minister's Award for Outstanding Achievement at the 2012 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards. Molly is a Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Associate Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Managers.