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National palliative care training for regional, rural services

Some 900 rural and regional health, aged and community care workers nationally will be the initial target of cutting-edge training being developed to support the psychological needs of terminally ill people, their families and caregivers.

The capacity-building program, which is being developed and delivered by regional and rural community care aged provider and training organisation integratedliving Australia, will also be made available online and embedded in vocational education and university courses to target other existing and future workers.

As reported by Australian Ageing Agenda during Palliative Care Week, integratedliving in partnership with the Amaranth Foundation, a provider of rural social work and counselling services, and Charles Sturt University (CSU) received $3.3 million in Commonwealth funding to deliver three interlinked projects together known as Listen, Acknowledge, Respond.

Together they aim to develop skills that build the capacity of existing and new entry employees working in primary and specialist settings across health, aged and community care, to support end-of-life psychosocial and psychological care needs of people with advanced chronic and life-limiting illnesses, their families and care givers.

Using its $1.8 million share of the funding, integratedliving Australia RTO manager Dianne Potter said they would deliver 40 series of five workshops to 900 people using qualified trainers from Amaranth Foundation across every Australian state and territory until June 2017.

“There is already a lot of work around palliative care and we recognise that but this program is a totally new way of looking at it,” Ms Potter told AAA. “The learning materials will also be contextualised and made available through online programs,” she said.

integratedliving Australia is working with the Amaranth Foundation writing team in the development of the new learning materials to be used in specialised skill sets from Certificate IV level qualifications and embedded in a CSU Graduate Certificate program.

Ms Potter said the workshops were available to all involved in palliative care including those from the aged care and allied health fields undertaking training, already working in the industry and others interested in it.

“The training is also for those people at a higher level that we need to target to ensure that they recognise this is a new way of dealing with it so they will refer people,” she said.

The pilot program will begin in July, the national roll out of the first series of workshops will commence in late August and the first materials are planned to go online from half-way through the project.

“We are engaging with some of the peak bodies to ensure they can access the program through our site as well,” Ms Potter said.

Elsewhere, as part of the project, CSU will benchmark these new skills and competencies against various national and international standards and accepted best practice and also undertake a comparative analysis on the anticipated social and financial benefits achieved by this project.

“The research will be looking at the social benefits to the patient but also the actual benefit to carers and care givers and also the families of the carers,” Ms Potter said.

With more people choosing to die at home, it will be necessary that workers visiting homes have the skills and tools to help people and their families cope and identify people who have become clinically depressed, she said.

“Clinical depression can be treated and it is making people aware of that then enabling workers working with them to recognise that and seek the necessary help.”

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