Greater community death literacy and the appointment of a national palliative care commissioner are two key recommendations in a new national plan by peak body Palliative Care Australia.
Palliative care must also become an essential component of aged care in Australia with more funding and better training of health and aged care workers if we are to ensure that the needs of older Australians are met, according to PCA.
The organisation's new Palli8 plan proposes eight key recommendations to improve palliative care in aged care, with calls for funding to fully implement the National Palliative Care Strategy 2018.
Palli8 was launched today at an online Parliamentary Friends of Palliative Care Group event which explored the critical role of palliative care in aged care with experts representing consumers, the aged-care industry, academia and palliative care.
Speaking ahead of the event, PCA Chairwoman, Meera Agar said the current belief in the aged care system that palliative care is limited to end-of-life care and only provided in the last week or days of life was incorrect.
"This misconception means that many older Australians are not receiving the care they need to improve their quality of life, which in turn leads to poorer outcomes," said Professor Agar.
PCA chief executive officer Rohan Greenland said the issue is even more pressing because Australia's ageing population has resulted in a growing number of Australians facing chronic or life-limiting illness.
"The prevalence of highly complex needs in permanent aged care residents has increased five-fold to 53 per cent in the last decade. Keep in mind also that 36 per cent of all deaths in Australia are in residential aged care. Governments and the aged care sector must acknowledge this reality by investing in palliative care and supporting workforce training," said Mr Greenland.
The Palli8 plan includes:
- A person-centred and holistic approach to palliative care in aged care, which does not focus solely on the last days of life.
- Palliative care robustly included as a standalone element of the Aged Care Quality Standards.
- Palliative care training for all health and aged care worker as a core component of their studies.
- More done to measure and evaluate how older Australians receive palliative care.
- Funding to fully implement the National Palliative Care Strategy 2018
- Investment in, and development of, innovative models of care is to ensure older people have equitable access to palliative care.
- Improved death literacy across the community to lift barriers to care and improve outcomes for patients needing palliative care.
- The appointment of a National Palliative Care Commissioner.
Palliative Care Australia: palliativecare.org.au