Organisers of the upcoming National Palliative Care Week say they’re planning to highlight aged care services providing excellent palliative care while encouraging those who need improvement to access latest resources.
Palliative Care Australia is currently working with aged care peak bodies on a series of events to be held next month that will raise awareness of the issues impacting quality provision of end-of-life care in aged care.
This year National Palliative Care Week, which runs from 21 to 28 May, is focusing on aged care.
“We’re trying to celebrate the good work that aged care providers do in the community and so there are a number of events planned in each state and territory,” PCA chief executive Liz Callaghan told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Residential aged care providers are being encouraged to host events as part of the week, which could include information sessions with staff about palliative care or facilitating discussions with residents about end-of-life wishes.
PCA said it has produced the Dying to Talk Discussion Starter to help providers with facilitating these conversations with residents.
“We know when people have those conversations and talk to their family and healthcare provider about what they would want at the end of their life, they’re more likely to actually get that when the time comes,” said Ms Callaghan.
Staff training, resourcing
Apart from facilitating these conversations, the other key role for aged care providers was ensuring staff were provided with the latest training and evidence for providing a palliative approach in aged care.
“That training covers things like recognising if someone is dying, the signs of deterioration – because if you don’t pick up on those signs you can’t act on them,” said Ms Callaghan.
Latest resources also supported providers in creating a culture in which family members were welcomed and made part of the resident’s end-of-life care, she said.
“Providers also need to be clear about the palliative care they can access outside of their service, so thinking about how they link with the outside health sector when they need it.”
The Decision Assist project had a component where a trial of aged care providers worked to set up informal linkages which were shown to make a significant difference to residents at end of life.
“That means when things get tricky or you have symptoms you can’t manage, you can call on someone for advice,” said Ms Callaghan.
Palliative care a key issue
Ms Callaghan said that palliative care in aged care was a big issue facing the sector and community at large.
“We certainly recognise that aged care providers have to deal with far greater complex needs than ever before, but the current environment is difficult to deliver that. It is hard for the providers to respond to that and ensure quality care at the end of life.
“We recognise that and really salute those providers who are working very hard to do that.
PCA also encourages the providers that could do better to access the resources that are available and to look at their culture and whether they were open to letting families in and being part of that end-of-life care, she said.
Resources for providers:
- Dying to Talk: encourages discussion and planning around end-of-life care
- CareSearch: pulls together latest evidence on palliative care
- National Palliative Care Week: details on events and a communications kit
- Decision Assist: webinars on advance care planning
- The Palliative Care Bridge: educational videos and resources on palliative care
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