Today we talk with Jolene Hill from Your Life Talks and Your Life Assist. Jolene is on a a mission to raise community awareness of the importance of initiating meaningful conversations within families, to recognize our intrinsic need to remember and celebrate our life achievements, and share our plans for the future.
Jolene gives families free independent up-to-date information to assist with the many options available surrounding carer support needs, seniors’ accommodation choices, Advance Care planning including end of life stages, arranging and personalising a funeral, and options and decisions to be made in the weeks and months following a funeral.
Why are you passionate about what you do, and where did your passion stem from?
When my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I became his full time carer for seventeen months. Our family overcame many difficulties in providing both physical and emotional care during this time, and in having to initiate conversations with David about his end of life wishes.
With the first hand experiences I gained during this time and my career background as a Funeral Director, I created the community information websites, Your Life Assist and Your Life Talks, and became a passionate advocate to encourage people to take the first important step in having these meaningful conversations.
Why should people use your service?
My goal is to provide people with an engaging and simple way to share their life stories, and a ‘non-confrontational’ way of having those sometimes challenging conversations about their plans for their future accommodation, health care and end of life wishes.
The innovative tools we developed with ‘Your Life Talks’ Conversation Cards and Booklets provide a face-to-face, tactile and sharing experience with another person, who’s actively involved as the supportive listener and a true participator in the conversation experience.
“The Emergency Department is not the place to have these conversations.”
What personal traits do you offer which make it extra special?
Having been both a full-time carer during the prolonged period of a terminal illness of a loved one, and having to arrange a funeral for over 400 families, has placed me in the unique position of understanding the special needs of individuals and their immediate families, at such a difficult time.
What experience do attendees take away from your course?
Sharing your life story encourages families to have conversations about life and what matters most to them. It is a wonderful way to reaffirm to our loved ones how much they have impacted our lives, and how much they have meant to us.
By having and documenting discussions about our future health care preferences, we have lessened the burden on our family when it comes to making difficult decisions if life changing circumstances arise. Families of people who have an Advance Care Plan usually have less anxiety, depression, stress and are more satisfied with the care provided to their loved one.
These meaningful conversations should be started as early as possible, when we are fit and healthy and can make clear minded decisions. Finally, documenting a person’s biography in our accompanying booklet ‘My Life Journal’ results in a lasting family legacy, that can be passed down for generations to come.
What are you looking forward to the most when it comes providing what you do?
‘Your Life Talks’ has a register of Speakers who give talks to Community & Carer Support Groups in Australian and New Zealand on the topic of encouraging families to have these conversations.
Right now is the best time to have these conversations recalling our life story and how we want to live out the final stages of our life, including how we would like to be remembered.
I hope that by using our Conversation Starter Cards and Booklets and our Training Guide, that we encourage many more individuals to take the step, and sit down with their family and friends to ‘kick-start’ these important conversations.