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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.
About a third of Australian nurses work in rural and remote practice and many are sole practitioners working in geographically diverse and challenging areas. This requires nurses to have a diverse range of skills, professional and otherwise, including the need to provide quality palliative care. One of our biggest challenges is in being able to maintain those skills in their environment. Ann Aitken, Acting Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services, discusses how the palliAGEDnurse and palliAGEDgp apps provide nurses and their medical colleagues a way to gain 24/7 offline palliative care information to help them in their practice.
Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) manages the National Aged Care Advocacy Program. OPAN provides information, education and free, confidential individual advocacy to both community and residential aged care and potential consumers, their carers and families. Lewis Kaplan, former CEO of OPAN, discusses what is the relationship between good advocacy services and good palliative care.
In health care the role of evidence in decision making is recognised by health care practitioners and providers, and relates to understanding the balance between the potential benefits and harms of any practice, treatment or intervention. Dr Katrina Erny-Albrecht of CareSearch discusses the importance of independent, critical appraisal and synthesis of evidence into reliable, practical guidance for recipients and providers of care.
Many people spend the last stages of their lives in aged care, and for that reason Palliative Care Australia believes that end-of-life care should be recognised as core business for residential aged care. Increasingly, aged care providers are recognising the need to ensure their workforce have the necessary skills and competencies to deliver high quality end-of-life care. Yet in spite of this recognition, access to quality palliative care services is far from guaranteed in residential aged care – particularly in rural and remote areas.
We all want the ‘best death possible’ for our loved ones and ourselves as we enter old age. So we need to ask ourselves, what are the barriers to accessing care that can support this, and will looking at the issue from a population or needs-based policy perspective help to ensure end-of-life care becomes core business for all aged care providers?
One of the statements we commonly see in research reports and in policy and service documents is a comment about an ageing population. The reality of a demographic change where people are living longer than ever before has been instrumental in driving rethinking around issues such as retirement age, superannuation access, healthy lifestyles and supportive living environments. Living longer does not however mean living forever, and an ageing population means we also need to consider how we support older Australians as they approach death.