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Released May 22nd the latest Palliative care services in Australia report shows that between 2012-13 and 2016-17, palliative care-related hospitalisations rose by over 25% compared to an 18% increase recorded for all hospitalisations over the same period. Read more and access the report.
From 19 June 2019, Victorians at the end of life who are suffering and who meet strict eligibility criteria will be able to request access to voluntary assisted dying (VAD). On June 3rd, 2019 Palliative Care Australia released a guiding principles document for VAD. CEO Rohan Greenland says the document, Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia: Guiding principles for those providing care to people living with a life-limiting illness (81kb pdf) is national in scope, designed to sit alongside enacted state legislation where it exists, organisational ethical frameworks and professional codes of conduct. The guideline defines seven principles of equal importance:
Health professionals practicing in the state of Victoria can find more information on Voluntary Assisted Dying participation and services at Health.Vic
The June 24 - 28th, 2019 public hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety being held in Perth will focus on person-centred care. This will include inquiry of:
You can read more about the areas of inquiry at the Royal Commission webpage.
Released in May 2019 and providing an overview of contemporary palliative care service delivery, ‘Achieving Quality Palliative Care for All: The Essential Role of Nurses - A White Paper by ACN 2019’ (437kb pdf) summarises evidence for the role of nurses in palliative care. It also identifies urgent areas for action to ensure access to quality palliative care for all people with a life-limiting illness.
National Palliative Care Week is an annual event held to raise awareness of end of life and palliative care issues in the Australian community. This year’s theme is ‘What matters most?' The week is organised by Palliative Care Australia and supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
On Wednesday May 1st, at an event held at the Bradley Forum, UNISA, Adelaide, Professor Stephen Duckett of the Grattan Institute, Melbourne, outlined how we can improve policy and payment design to increase access to palliative care. The podcast of this event is now freely available.
Palliative Care Australia (PCA) has released a position statement, Sustainable access to prescription opioids for use in palliative care (458kb pdf), with endorsement from 12 other peak health organisations, to call for a 'future-proof' approach to ensure sustainable access to prescription opioids for Australians receiving palliative care. The statement warns of unintended consequence of increased government and regulatory restrictions surrounding non-cancer opioid prescribing to reduce the misuse and abuse of opioids within the wider community. Eight recommendations are made to address the needs of people with life-limiting illness.
The NHMRC Dementia Research Institute has partnered with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) and key stakeholders to develop a Dementia Research Action Plan targeting Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. Dementia is one of Australia’s most significant health challenges. However, CALD communities are often underrepresented in, and at times excluded from, dementia research and other areas of Australian health and medical research. To help inform the development of the action plan individuals and organisations are invited to complete a short survey.
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has launched the Palliative Care in the Catholic Sector (788kb pdf) report on palliative care services and explores innovative opportunities to embrace and resource palliative care as an integral part of the health care system. The report was launched at Calvary Hospital North Adelaide which is one of the first private hospitals to introduce home-based palliative care services. The report aim is to contribute to the quality and quantity of information available on Palliative Care issues and reports on internally collected and nationally available data and semi-structured interviews from over 30 palliative care clinicians, palliative care nursing staff, managers, administrators, and researchers from CHA member organisations.
Dementia Training Australia has released a freely available tool to generate regular audit reports on antipsychotic usage within an aged care setting. Included in the tool are:
You can download the tool from the DTA website
Following broad engagement with stakeholders, health professionals and community members, NSW Health has released a framework document for palliative care. Five priority areas identified in the Framework are:
The Australian Government has released the updated National Palliative Care Strategy. Endorsed by all Australian Health Ministers the 2018 National Palliative Care Strategy is for use by all Australian governments, as well as organisations and individuals, to guide improvement of palliative care across Australia so that people affected by life-limiting illnesses get the care they need to live well. The strategy has six guiding principles regarded as fundamental to ensuring that all people experience the palliative care they need.
The guiding principles are:
Shortness of breath (dysponea) is a common symptom in very advanced stages of many diseases and disorders. In a world first, Mayne Pharma International Pty Ltd has announced the listing of a low-dose sustained-release morphine called Kapanol on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for the symptomatic reduction of chronic breathlessness in the palliative care of patients with distressing breathlessness due to severe COPD, cardiac failure, malignancy or other cause.
Listing of the treatment was largely underpinned by work conducted by Australian researchers. The Australian national Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative, formerly at Flinders University and now based at University of Technology Sydney, has built on work started more than 20 years ago at Flinders University to study the effectiveness and safety of regular, low dose extended-release morphine for the symptomatic reduction of chronic breathlessness. The work, led by the principal investigator of the Collaborative, Professor David Currow, has engaged clinician-researchers in every mainland state. The Flinders Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative has led national trials supporting the release of the new treatment this year.
GriefLink was re-launched on February 20th at Anglicare SA by Mrs Lan Le, wife of His Excellency the Governor of South Australia, the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC. Supported by University of Adelaide, Anglicare, and Alfred James, the GriefLink website provides information and resources for people experiencing grief, and those who are supporting them. Maintained by a team based in South Australia, some of the support information provided by GriefLink may be specific to that State.
On February 20th, the NSW government announced an additional investment of $45 million to support 100 palliative care nurses who will work in hospitals, palliative care facilities, and in communities and homes to ensure patients can access the care they need, in the setting they choose. The investment extends the $100 million package for palliative care that was announced as part the 2017-18 Budget.
On 12 February 2019 Palliative Care Australia (PCA) released the organisation’s vision for palliative care in 2030. The document, Palliative Care 2030: Working Towards the Future of Quality Palliative Care for All (475kb pdf), seeks to open discussion on reducing inequitable access to palliative care in Australia by addressing the way it is funded and delivered.
Launched in February 2019, End of Life Law for Clinicians (ELLC) is a new training program for clinicians and medical students about the law relating to end of life decision-making. The ELLC online training modules are now available at the ELLC online training portal. ELLC has been developed by the Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.
On February 5th, the Australian government announced that an annual $70 million investment will be made to support an innovative program to provide best practice person-centred care for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
Aimed at providing specialist care for people who are currently unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream residential aged care services the program will establish more than 30 specialist care units.
On February 4, 2019 Palliative Care Australia announced the appointment of Mr Rohan Greenland as the organisation’s new chief executive officer (347kb pdf). Most recently holding positions at the National Heart Foundation, Mr Greenland brings considerable experience in health policy and advocacy to the position.