A policy proposal has been launched to provide a roadmap for meeting the increasingly complex palliative care needs of older Australians.
The proposal, Palliative Care 2030: Working Towards the Future of Quality Palliative Care for All was released by Palliative Care Australia this week, outlining what the government and communities can do to improve access to palliative care.
It acknowledges that there needs to be collaboration, commitment and innovation to meet the palliative care needs of seniors by 2030.
Key policy proposals include:
- implementing a whole of government approach to improving palliative care
- investing in a national palliative care workforce strategy and providing scholarships for health professionals to complete palliative care training
- reviewing the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme schedules for palliative care items to improve access
- educating the community by investing in a palliative care communications campaign
- the National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund provide funding towards nationally significant research programs
- improving grief and bereavement support for families and carers.
Palliative Care Australia board chair Dr Jane Fischer said the guide is a platform to raise discussions that need to occur to meet palliative care needs of older Australians in the future.
“We know that there is inequitable access to palliative care in Australia, and unless there is a significant change in the way it is funded and delivered, these inequities will continue to grow,” Dr Fischer said.
She said palliative care should be available to all Australians.
“Australians with a life-limiting illness should be able to access quality palliative care no matter what their postcode, diagnosis, ethnicity, socio-economic status or place of care, to enable them to have the best quality of life for as long as possible,” Dr Fischer said.
The number of deaths each year for people over the age of 65 is projected to increase from 160,000 in 2018 to more than 200,000 in 2030, she said.
She said there is also a need to upskill all health professionals to be able to deliver palliative care and support end-of-life decisions.
“We also need changes to enable general practitioners and nurse practitioners to facilitate family meetings, advance care planning discussions and support home visits, after-hours support and the needs of residents in aged care facilities,” Dr Fischer said.
Palliative care should be a national health priority, she said.
“We need to ensure that these people are well supported to have their palliative care needs assessed, and if appropriate, access specialist palliative care within aged care services,” Dr Fischer said.
Access the policy proposal Palliative Care 2030: Working Towards the Future of Quality Palliative Care for All here.
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