Daniel Tout and Ali Weedon show how aged care and community palliative care nursing can work together.

Aged care facilities in rural areas often struggle the most to access specialist care but Corangamarah Residential Aged Care in rural Victoria is being supported by local and regional palliative services.

Located in Colac, two hours from Melbourne, Corangamarah provides care for up to 75 residents.

A service of the Colac Area Health Service, the facility has built its palliative care expertise by accessing the Victorian Government’s Palliative Care in Aged Care Link Nurse Program.

A link nurse based at the Barwon SW Regional Palliative Care Consortium provides palliative training and support to aged care facilities across the region.

According to Daniel Tout, the care coordinator at Corangamarah, the program is proving very successful.

“The link nurse working with us, Myra McRae has a wealth of knowledge and her enthusiasm and passion for this sensitive and sometimes complex clinical practice has been paramount,” said Mr Tout.

The link nurse program provides education for the staff at Corangamarah and supports end-of-life decision making, he said.

Engaging in the program has complemented education underway at Corangamarah to up-skill enrolled nursing staff for their medication endorsement, said Mr Tout.

“They learnt how to be involved in the end-of-life care process, and that it was an inevitable part of their work and their residents’ time with us. It gave them confidence,” he said.

More broadly, the program demonstrates the importance of working collaboratively in a multidisciplinary environment, he said.

Link with community nursing

Ali Weedon, the palliative care nurse for the Colac Area Health’s community nursing division, works closely with Mr Tout and his team at Corangamarah.

“All the staff are now more confident with the palliative approach, even though some still shy away from the reality of death,” she said.

Ms Weedon supports the care of patients in acute care or receiving community care who would benefit from palliative care.

She is also able to assist patients going into aged care from the hospital or their home, often where she has been providing them with symptom management and advance care planning.

“Every patient’s journey is different, some go into hospital and are there for 30 days; others go into aged care and are only there for three days.”

Early conversations

Part of Mr Tout’s role is to have a conversation with every new resident and family about advance care planning.

It’s best to discuss this earlier rather than leaving it to the time when end-of-life care is needed, he said.

“It is very important to have a discussion with residents and families in an empathetic and meaningful way. Because of the training provided by the consortium, our nurses have the skills to communicate and respond to care with great professionalism,” said Mr Tout.

National Palliative Care Week runs 21-28 May and this year focuses on aged care. 

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