In 2014, the first ever global resolution on palliative care, called on the World Health Organisation and its member states to improve access to palliative care as a core component of health systems, with an emphasis on primary health care and community/home-based care. This provides the framework within which care for people at the end of life needs to be framed.
It means that all health professionals need to be involved and that the care setting is not just hospitals and specialist palliative care services but all the places where people live and die.
This speaks to the heart of CareSearch’s role and contribution, ensuring that all health professionals and care providers as well as patients, carers and families have easy access to trustworthy, evidence-based information.
Evidence enables us to make informed decisions by helping us understand the likely results and the potential benefits and harms of a treatment at a professional and a personal level. It can help us understand how best to provide care and support patients and families. It provides a basis for assessing and supporting continuous improvement within services. Evidence also highlights the areas where increased investment or targeted investment could be most beneficial.
For 10 years CareSearch has been assembling and disseminating evidence, becoming the major online source for palliative care evidence in Australia. We do the valuable work of continuously identifying, evaluating, synthesising and disseminating trustworthy information and best available evidence on palliative care.
CareSearch provides tailored information for all Australians, including those in rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, LGBTI, different cultural groups, prisoners, and people with intellectual disability and experiencing mental illness.
We seek to innovate, to work with others in the palliative care community and to use new technologies to communicate and engage with those who need palliative care evidence and information. Our award-winning Dying2Learn online course has helped more than 4,000 participants to learn and overcome the difficulty in talking about death, dying and palliative care. Over 100,000 Australians make use of our website resources each month and our resources are embedded in more than 10,000 other webpages and distributed to an average of 150 organisations annually.
Moreover, our palliAGED website and resources help the aged care sector deliver quality palliative care by providing online evidence-based guidance and practice resources. We also help expand the evidence base on palliative care through our own research and by enabling researchers to easily find studies and published information.
Over the next three years, we will continue to make palliative care evidence evident and accessible for all Australians. We are leading an engagement project to identify and address the information needs of patients, carers, families, allied health professionals and the aged care sector. Our palliAGED apps will be updated to reflect a new framework, resources and evidence. We will also release a new education module to help aged care staff apply evidence when providing palliative care.
Professor Jennifer Tieman, CareSearch Director, Matthew Flinders Fellow and Dean (Research), College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University