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At the Annual General Meeting and Board meeting, held November 2019, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) elected Prof Meera Agar, Professor of Palliative Medicine and a Professor at the IMPACCT (Improving Palliative, Aged and Chronic Care through Clinical Research and Translation) Centre at the University of Technology Sydney, as Chair of the PCA Board. Elected to the position of Deputy Chair was Helen Walker, Nurse Unit Manager of the Laurel Hospice at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, who also serves as the Deputy Chair of Palliative Care South Australia and Deputy Chair of the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation. Read the PCA media release for more.
On November 15, 2019, ACGB released a free app designed to support people experiencing grief and bereavement. The MyGrief app is evidence-based and assists people to assess how effectively they are currently managing their grief, and provides support, guidance and strategies to enable them to self-manage their grief journey.
In their discussion paper ‘Dying Well – Improving palliative and end of life care for people with dementia’ released on October 30, 2019, Dementia Australia has called on the Victorian State government (in collaboration with the Commonwealth government) to systematise and customise palliative care for people with dementia, acknowledging the contextual complexities of dementia care within the different health care and community settings. The full set of papers for Federal, Queensland, Victoria, and NSW governments are available from Dementia Australia as of November 28th.
At the October 31st, 2019 meeting of Health ministers from the Commonwealth, each state and territory and New Zealand a range of national health issues were discussed. Among them three items related to palliative care and advanced care planning.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has released an Interim Report setting out most of their findings to September 2019. The report highlights three areas requiring immediate action and major quality and safety issues including ‘patchy and fragmented palliative care for residents who are dying’. Submissions in response to the content of the Interim Report are invited until the end of April 2020. The Final Report will be handed to the Governor-General on 12 November 2020.
The first part of the updated fifth edition of the RACGP aged care clinical guide (Silver book) has been released online. Part A: Common clinical conditions in aged care includes palliative and end-of-life care with recommendations for practice and guidance on the GP’s role. Parts B and C are to be released in 2020.
Released on September 20 the World Alzheimer Report 2019: Attitudes to dementia (8.44MB pdf) analyses findings of the world’s largest survey on attitudes to dementia, as well as expert essays and case studies from across the world including Australia.
In September, 2019 Palliative Care Australia released an updated postion statement on Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD). In a media release, PCA Board Chair Dr Jane Fischer says the statement makes it clear that VAD is not part of palliative care but recognises that the palliative care workforce will require support to answer questions on VAD.
August 26, 2019 the South Australian government announced an agreement with Silver Chain/RDNS to support people with chronic conditions in the last 1,000 days of their life. The new program known as Integrum SA aims to reduce unplanned hospital admissions and improve quality of life for patients towards the end of their life by providing an alternative to hospital and residential aged care.
On August 26th, 2019 the Australian government announced an investment of $11.7 million to keep Australians out of hospital. This includes projects for Early Detection of Deterioration in Elderly Residents of aged care facilities, and Implementation of Early Palliative Care in routine practice for people with advanced cancer.
The Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) has released their 2018 Annual report (1.32MB pdf).
The Western Australia Department of Health has released the final report of the Ministerial Expert Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying. The importance of ensuring people have information on comfort and palliative care is included in recommendations one and five of the fourteen recommendations put forward by the panel.
Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has launched a new resource aimed at assisting practitioners and those working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures within the grief and bereavement sector. Working with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Grief and Bereavement: A Resource for Workers (4.04MB pdf).
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has released a new background paper Advance care planning in Australia (394kb pdf). All the papers are available for download on the Commission’s website.
In response to new legislation enacted in Victoria on June 19, 2019 the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology has released a new factsheet on Assisted dying (255kb pdf). The printable publication provides key facts including what it is, eligibility, access, and safeguards.
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.