End-of-life and palliative care has been receiving a lot of interest recently in Western Australia, as it has in other parts of Australia.
The WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network (WACPCN), WA Department of Health is committed to delivering quality and culturally respectful end-of-life and palliative care in Western Australia. The WACPCN recently unveiled the WA End-of-Life and Palliative Care Strategy 2018-2028 (Strategy), with a launch during National Palliative Care Week.
The Strategy is the first of its kind for WA and is the culmination of several years of collaboration and consultation. It demonstrates how important it is for the healthcare system in WA to have clear and defined priorities for end-of-life and palliative care, and represents a real turning point in how priorities and direction for end-of-life and palliative care are set.
The Strategy provides a 10-year vision to improve the lives of all Western Australians through quality end-of-life and palliative care. This is particularly important given that approximately 70 per cent of all deaths are expected, and that most of us will die with a chronic condition. More people are living longer with chronic life-limiting conditions, and an estimated 30 per cent of Australians aged 65 years and over live with three or more chronic conditions. The aim of the Strategy is to provide the strategic statewide policy direction and outline the vision, values and priorities for end-of-life and palliative care to guide Western Australia to 2028.
The Strategy emphasises that care at end-of-life is everyone’s business, whether it is provided by specialist palliative care or non-specialist health, community and aged care providers and describes six key priorities:
Broad consultation was undertaken to develop the Strategy. Consultation events utilised technology to find new and innovative ways of engaging with stakeholders. The events provided healthcare providers, the community and consumers with the opportunity to identify gaps, innovations and improvements, and to contribute to a shared vision for end-of-life and palliative care. The draft Strategy was revised based on extensive consultation to ensure the views of the broader health, community and aged care systems were accurately represented.
Consultations revealed a strong emphasis on culturally respectful care and improving access for Aboriginal people, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities and marginalised groups. Improving access to care for these groups of people is a major focus for realising Priority One. The building blocks identified through consultation to realising this priority include:
- Culturally respectful and appropriate care is provided to these groups of people and their families in their place of choice.
- Health, community and aged care providers:
- work collaboratively with Aboriginal Health Workers
- have a greater understanding of beliefs and values at end-of-life
- have access to culturally appropriate information in relevant formats and languages to enable appropriate assessment and care for people and their family/carer
- have access to interpreter services.
Culturally respectful care is also identified in Priority Two and emphasises that a person’s values, culture and spirituality are respected and taken into account when care is given to ensure care is person-centred. We recognise that many systems, services and programs already contribute to these priority areas, and the WACPCN is seeking engagement and commitment from stakeholders to implement the Strategy’s priorities in their local areas and to work towards long-term reform.
This Strategy places people and their family/carer at the centre of care and ensures people are treated within a culture of compassion and quality. Achieving the six priorities will enable people of all ages and their families to receive comprehensive care within a more integrated, coordinated and collaborative health system. Implementation of the Strategy by health, community and aged care professionals and across all health settings in WA is critical to its success.
The WACPCN provides strategic direction on palliative and end-of-life care in Western Australia. Find out more about this initiative and other great work on the WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network website.
Frances Arthur, Project Officer, WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network, WA Department of Health
Culturally safe and responsive care is an essential part of good care. Visit the CareSearch Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Care section to view a range of resources and information to help the health care workforce and carers in providing palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.