New guide busts palliative care myths

CHA has launched a new palliative care guide aimed at health professionals.

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has produced a palliative care guide for staff members working in its health and aged care facilities.

The organisation says that only a third of Australians requiring palliative care are currently receiving it.

According to Professor Richard Chye, a palliative care specialist at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital who worked on the guide, this is partly due to a range of misconceptions about palliative care that are still common among health professionals.

“We know that we not only have a death-denying society but we also have a large number of death-denying health professionals,” said Professor Chye.

“Many of my colleagues, both doctors and nurses have a number of misconceptions about palliative care.

“For instance, a lot of them think palliative care is just about administering morphine and that palliative care patients only have days left to live. But giving morphine is only about 15 per cent of what I do as a clinician and as many as five per cent of my patients are still alive after 12 months.”

As well as explaining palliative care in a Catholic context, the CHA guide aims to help health professionals to engage appropriately with dying patients and their families.

It contains a number of stories and anecdotes about patients who have received palliative care.

“We are trying to make it less frightening to talk about palliative care so that health professionals can be more confident when they are talking to the patients,” said Professor Chye.

The guide was launched by Ageing Minister Justine Elliot who praised the CHA for its commitment to palliative care.

 “Catholic Health Australia is well placed to produce resources that will help its workforce provide the best quality in palliative care and to provide the best possible support and information for patients and their families,” she said.

CHA has also developed brochures for patients receiving palliative care which have been translated into Italian, Polish and Greek.

Tags: aged-care, catholic, cha, death, education, palliative care, workforce,

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