COVID-19 has been identified as a key issue for health and aged care. The Australian Government has adopted a whole of government emergency response which provides a framework for preparing for, responding to and managing COVID-19 in Australia. Importantly:
- Most people with COVID-19 infection experience mild illness and recover, but for some people it is more severe and may require urgent medical attention and could result in death. For those with moderate or severe disease, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has developed living guidelines to support clinical care in Australia.
- The impact of COVID-19 infection is greater for older people and people with pre-existing conditions.
This means that palliative care services are likely to experience increased demand and services may need to be provided across the community including aged care facilities and private homes. In the event of limited service and staff availability, inexperienced people may be asked to support others with palliative care needs. Access to information for people in this role will be important to ensure appropriate care is provided and that carers are adequately supported.
In response Palliative Care Australia has formed the Australian COVID-19 Palliative Care Working Group (ACPCWG) in partnership with the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM), Palliative Care Nurses Australia (PCNA), Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine (AChPM) of the Royal College of Physicians (RACP), End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC), Paediatric Palliative Care Australia and New Zealand (PAPCANZ), CareSearch and caring@home.