Heather and Tony’s Story

A local case study on community support for end of life at home

Often when people are seriously unwell or dying, they have a place in mind where they would like to spend the bulk of their time up until their dying moments.  This could be at home, in their local hospital or community hospice or in a residential facility.  The informal network of support someone has around them can make the difference in whether they have this choice or not.

Associate Professor Dr Kirsten Auret

Heather and Tony’s Story – End of Life at Home is an inspiring 12-minute film about a local couple, Tony Speechley and his wife Heather Sanderson and the people who supported them through the final months of Tony’s terminal illness.

The purpose of the film is to demonstrate the important role, family, friends and community play in providing end of life care.  

Giving and receiving support is an important message in the film and one of the biggest challenges people face when someone becomes ill. Often people don’t ask for support or decline support when it is offered because they don’t want to be a burden, even when the support is clearly needed.  The people offering support are also hesitant for fear of intruding on people’s privacy.

Heather and Tony’s story shows the value of accepting help early, even when you think you don’t need it. It also shows the opportunities that come from being open to giving and receiving support, and the choices it creates especially for the person who is dying and their carer.

Purpose of the Film

  • To share a real-life example of the role family, friends and community can play in end of life care.
  • To highlight how forming a network of support can provide people with greater choices at the end of life.
  • To challenge some of the stigmas around offering and accepting help and to understand why it can be so hard.
  • To help people understand how much they have to offer in end of life care, especially those who aren’t close family members or friends and how this support can be simple and practical.
  • To demonstrate how activating networks of support early and being open to offering and accepting support can lead to great personal growth and meaningful experiences for everyone involved.
  • To help people understand how they can have choices about where they would like to spend their time especially if they want to be at home.