Older Australians often experience complicated changes to their health, particularly as they approach the last 12 months of life. This frequently requires care to be provided across different healthcare settings and involve healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines. Documenting clinical care in a standardised way ensures:
- A benchmark to which progress can be accurately monitored; and
- Good communication between healthcare providers.
Clinical tools assist in reliable assessment and interpretation of clinical information, supporting the decision-making process. Do this well and the next steps become clearer – be it a case conference, a prescription or a referral.
Within the End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) project, three clinical toolkits - Home Care, Primary Care and Residential Aged Care – guide how healthcare professionals support the clinical care of older Australians living with a life-limiting illness, as well as their caregivers. Within each toolkit, links to a large number of clinical tools are embedded.
Ensuring consistency across the ELDAC project, the toolkit developers have identified twelve clinical tools (see Table 1) which are common to most. Consistency in the use of clinical tools across settings, as recommended by ELDAC, decreases complexity and variation for community-based health and aged care teams, regardless of where they are delivering care.
Clinical tools were included within this list, using the following criteria:
- Ability to be applied in the Australian context;
- Designed and validated for use with older people;
- Useful clinically;
- Avoiding tools requiring a paid subscription – noting that some clinical tools will require a one-off free registration;
- Intuitive to use by the relevant care providers across the aged care sector;
- Recommended by a peak body (for example, included within a health pathway); and
It is likely that some organisations or providers may already recommend a standard a range of clinical tools. Where this is the case, the ELDAC common clinical tools should be seen as complementing these tools.
For more information about the common clinical tools, visit the ELDAC website, download the printable A4 factsheet, or give the ELDAC helpline (1800 870 155) a call.
Table 1. ELDAC Common Clinical Tools
Paul Tait, Content Editor, ELDAC Project