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Aged Care

Advance care planning in aged care: A guide to support implementation in community and residential settings

This guide provides information to assist aged care providers, particularly managers and senior staff, in implementing advance care planning. It was developed by Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) and the National Ageing Research Institute as part of the Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services program, an Australian Government initiative.

Spiritual care integral to palliative care in aged care
Meaningful Ageing Australia and Palliative Care Australia released a joint position statement affirming that spiritual care is an integral part of palliative care and that a palliative approach includes spiritual assessment and the involvement of appropriately trained staff. It also calls for action to improve access to spiritual care in palliative and end of life care. The reference documents for the position statement are available here.

Principles for Palliative and End-of-Life Care in Residential Aged Care
These consensus principles address: recognising end-of-life; involving consumers in planning and decision making; timely access to care and care that is holistic and meets spiritual and psychosocial needs; care that meets the needs of those with dementia and cognitive impairment; dignity and respect; and bereavement support.

Online education resource to deliver palliative care

A new online resource has been launched to support aged care workers to deliver evidence-based palliative care to older Australians.

The resource, launched during Palliative Care Week, provides health professionals and support staff with the latest evidence and clinical tools to guide their practice, including evidence summaries, educational videos and practice resources.

palliAGED is funded by the federal government and managed by Flinders University through the CareSearch website.

Eastern Palliative Care has Palliative Support Nurses and a Family Support Worker who work with residential aged care facilities and supported residential services to increase their capacity to provide palliative approach to care.
A Palliative Approach is not confined to the end stages of an illness. Instead a palliative approach provides a focus on active comfort care and a positive approach to reducing an individual’s symptoms and distress.

In residential aged care, a palliative approach allows residents’ and their families’  to understand that they are being actively supported with care appropriate to their current health situation and wishes.

Guidelines for palliative approach in RAC (2006)

Natframe is a range of assessment tools for the sector, promoted by the Dept. of Health & Ageing

Australian Pain Society -Pain in residential care management strategies has numerous assessment tools & resources specific for the RAC sector

The Office of the Public Advocate has free fact sheets and ‘Take Control’ a free kit to appoint powers of attorney.  Fact sheets are available in languages.

CareSearch is a palliative care information site with a  residential care hub .

Visit our resource page for additional links and information

Dispelling the palliative care myth

Palliative care isn’t just about dying. It’s also about improving the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and
impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

In Australia, people can access palliative care from a variety of sources including in hospital, in the community and in aged care facilities with support from a team of health professionals.

Aged care providers, whether residential or community focused, do play an important role in the palliative care process when caring for older people and their family members. Wherever possible, aged care providers will work with doctors and family to support the person to stay in residential care, with the staff they know and in a familiar environment.

To provide direct palliative clinical care, support and education at its residential sites, South Australian residential aged care provider Resthaven employs specialist palliative care nurse practitioner Peter Jenkin. He points out palliative care supports a person, and their family and friends in many ways.

“Just as it is important to meet a person’s physical needs, their spiritual needs must be met,” says Mr Jenkin. “This may be religious, or may reflect the need to explore existential questions and concerns.”

And it’s not just the person who’s dying who needs support. Mr Jenkins highlights a death rarely happens in isolation. “Family and significant others are affected as a person approaches death. Supporting them with information allows them to prepare for their loss and assist in the grieving process,” he says.

Mr Jenkins says extensive work has occurred nationally to improve knowledge and skills of aged care staff in providing a palliative approach to meet the needs of older persons as they approached the end of their lives.

“There are many things to consider,” he says. “Talking about these things doesn’t mean you’re tempting fate. Ultimately, we would prefer to retain control over who is present, to say goodbye, to ensure our wishes are respected and not to have life prolonged pointlessly.”

Aged care providers central to community-led palliative care: expert
Article By Darragh O’Keeffe,

A grassroots campaign of care professionals and services is pushing to embed community-based palliative care in Australia to provide more inclusive end-of-life care – and they say aged care providers have a key role to play.

With Australia’s ageing population, increasing pressure on health and aged care budgets and mounting rates of social isolation in the community, they say a new approach to end-of-life care is needed.

The “compassionate communities” movement aims to promote and integrate social approaches to dying, death and bereavement by building community capacity around end-of-life care and support.

The group is preparing to hold its inaugural symposium later this month to bring together government, community groups and health professionals to spearhead the movement locally.

Not only does the model provide for more inclusive and person-centered palliative care, the experience in Europe has shown it also reduces unnecessary and costly hospital treatment.

Access the article here

Interprofessional Education in Aged Care
This IPEAC toolkit helps residential aged care organisations in implementing a student placement and staff education program in their facilities. The free online program aims to increase professional collaboration between students from all health disciplines and improve the quality of care of residents.

palliAGED is the place to go for evidence, tools, guidance and practice resources about palliative care for older Australians. The information and resources supports all those involved in caring for older Australians approaching the end of their life. This includes nurses and care workers in residential aged care or community care, GPs and general practice nurses, allied health professionals and support staff. There is also information and resources for older people and their families. Click here for the link.

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