Palliative care is core business for aged care. For most people entering a residential aged care facility, it will be their last home, making palliative care and end of life care an integral part of their care needs.
The importance of high-quality palliative care and end of life care services in aged care facilities cannot be understated. According to the World Health Organisation, palliative care reduces unnecessary hospital admissions and the use of health services, but a lack of training and awareness of palliative care among health professionals is a major barrier to improving access.
As the peak body supporting over 700 church, charitable and community-based not-for-profit organisations across Australia, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has not forgotten our place in helping to upskill and empower the aged care workforce in responding to residents reaching the end of their lives.
We have partnered with a national consortium to form the End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) project, a national project funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to support aged care workers in providing quality care for Australians as they reach the end of life.
We share the community’s desire for older Australians to be able to choose from a range of quality aged care services that provide the compassionate and dignified care they need and deserve, and we believe that ELDAC can help to build this quality care, particularly in palliative care and at the end of life.
I encourage you to visit the ELDAC website, www.eldac.com.au, view the five evidence-based toolkits, and call the ELDAC Helpline (1800 870 155) if you require further support. The ‘Clinical Care’ section of the Residential Aged Care toolkit provides meaningful information and useful tools for aged care workers across eight areas including providing palliative care and assessing palliative care needs, both of which can help you to feel confident and equipped to care for a resident as they reach the final months, weeks and days of life.
Already more than 25,000 aged care workers are accessing the ELDAC website for support to care in the first year of the project, and through sharing ELDAC knowledge and information, we have received a lot of positive feedback from our members about the knowledge gaps this project is helping to close.
We know most aged care workers are working incredibly hard to do the best possible job they can under frequently challenging circumstances and time pressures, yet often still taking the time to develop meaningful relationships with our older loved ones, becoming like de facto family members in the process.
As part of our ‘Humans of Aged Care’ campaign, we continue to highlight the positive stories of those living, volunteering and working in residential aged care. We believe this is a necessary step to projecting, honouring and listening to the voices of Australia’s seniors and those that seek to care for them.
Our society’s negative attitudes about ageing need to change, as does the perception of our aged care system as a burden, when it should be viewed as an industry that enhances the quality of life for care recipients. Through using ELDAC’s free resources to upskill our aged care workers, I believe we can build the resilience of this industry and help our aged care workers to remain optimistic through an unprecedented time in the aged care sector’s history.
Find out more about ELDAC at www.eldac.com.au.
Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA)