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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
For all our good intentions in trying to provide compassionate end-of-life care for patients, most of us will acknowledge the daily grind of barriers in doing this. These hurdles are borne of a health and community care system broken up into a confusing mess of organisational and financially independent silos, often with imperatives which leave gaps or which are at cross-purposes with each other. And then there are the daily distressing needs of dying individuals and their families which we sometimes don't see, or, if we can see them, cannot quantify and therefore find it difficult to convince authorities to bring resources to bear to provide some relief.
Out of this comes a multitude of solutions to fix individual problems, plug individual system gaps, and efforts to research and quantify individual problems in the “system”. Our good intentions drive us to develop solutions to fix the problems in front of us, but these efforts in themselves, although noble, can either become lost in an unmapped world, or become part of the problem in adding to confusion.
Much like a doctor who looks at his or her computer screen more than talking with their patient, for all our great efforts, it is easy to lose sight of the wood for the trees in our care of the dying patient in front of us, as we expend our efforts in trying to search and find solutions to each problem or crisis, rather than focusing on the emotional needs of the individual and their family. And if frustration settles in, things can deteriorate further.
This is why CareSearch is so important. It brings some sense to the world in mapping the wonderful work that has been done in doing the research, developing the resources, and in the setting up of services to improve the care of dying patients - which are otherwise wasted if they cannot be found. In being a one-stop shop to search and find what is needed, the proportion of energy expended in the search is less.
And maybe we can then take our eyes off the screen and back onto the human being in front of us. And see the wood for the trees again in caring for them.
Dr Chris Moy, Chair, Central Adelaide Clinical Council, Adelaide Primary Health Network and Federal AMA Ethics and Medico-legal Committee