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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.
Staff at the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner have been listening to the stories of those dying in aged care since we first began on 1 January 2016. These stories help us to understand the needs of dying people and their families, and to work with service providers to ensure that their palliative care improves. Jan McGregor, Director at Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s Clinical Unit discusses the most difficult complaints to resolve are those where there has been a breakdown in communication between the service and the family and the importance of communication in palliative care.
Most Australians have an expectation that their GP will be able to provide them with the care they need when they are unwell, or at least make sure that they are linked in with the right services. While most GPs feel they have a role to play in caring for patients at the end-of-life, many do not feel confident in doing so.
Recognised barriers to providing palliative care include patient complexity, inadequate training, inadequate access to resources and poor communication from specialists or treating teams.
Palliative care and advance care planning is, and should be, part of the normal scope of practice of all primary care providers. To support this ELDAC has developed the primary care toolkit with relevant information and resources.
Online health information is available and accessible almost instantaneously; in Australia this is true for most individuals with internet connections, from any digital device. Sourcing evidence-based research and information regarding health is crucial in informing decision making, improving knowledge and skills, and guiding service choices and clinical practice for health professionals and care workers. Virtual health resources are widely used in clinical care settings; individuals routinely search online for answers to health-related queries, which may assist their ability to appropriately service others in their care. For individuals working in aged care, accessing online information facilitates timely answers to their queries or may contribute to their ongoing professional education. Health professionals and care workers are also well-positioned to refer their clients or patients to trustworthy, reputable, and up-to-date online health resources.
Are older Australians receiving the medical care that they want, and how well does their care align with their personal values and preferences?
To help answer this question, Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) is leading a pioneering research project, the National Advance Care Directive Prevalence Study 2018, the first of its kind in Australia.
An essential first step in our ELDAC journey was to identify the needs and challenges currently experienced by aged care providers when delivering palliative care and advance care planning. From QUT, we distributed an online survey to aged care services via the mailing lists of the peak bodies – LASA, ACSA and CHA.