Palliative Care: Where Australians Should Be

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A new report from The Centre for Independent Studies has revealed what many nurses already know; there is not enough access to palliative care.

As many as 130,000 people could have received palliative care last year but only around 11% of those (14,300) actually did. This report puts an end to the myth that Australians prefer to die at home and has reinforced the popular fear that grim, distressing, painful and undignified ‘natural death’ in hospital should be avoided.

“Expanding access to palliative care services in Australia would ensure that patients with incurable chronic conditions receive person-centred and cost-effective care — not only in the terminal stage, but earlier — to improve the quality of their lives in the period well before death,” research author Dr Jessica Borbasi says.

“Palliative care enables people to live at home for longer, prevents hospitalisations and — within hospital — prevents invasive and misdirected medical care that is usually also expensive.”

The report emphasises lack of access as the biggest barrier for people receiving adequate palliative care. Further government investment is needed to ensure more areas around Australia are able to offer local options for patients.

Palliative care is an important service to improve the life of patients with a life-threatening illness and their families. In order to provide quality care to the elderly and dying, adaptions to the changing nature of ageing and illness is required along with more investment.

Dr Borbasi observed that the health system is not set up to deal with the reality of modern death.

“The health system has done a stellar job at keeping us alive for longer. But it is in the latter and last years, months, weeks and days of life that it fails older Australians.”

The community is being asked to participate in a palliative care survey to get a better understanding of how palliative care services can be improved so we can ensure everyone receives the support and services they deserve at the end of life.

Roundtable meetings were held between the NSW Department of Health and medical, nursing and allied health specialists and community organisations earlier this year, with priorities published in the NSW Health Palliative Care Roundtables Consultation Paper.

The short 10 minute survey asks individuals and communities to respond to these priorities for improving palliative care.

It’s beneficial to read the consultation paper before completing the survey.

Have your say HERE.

The survey closes on Friday, 15 December.

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