New initiative set to revolutionise palliative care nationwide

May 31, 2023
Government approves allocates millions of dollars to improve palliative care in Australia. Source: Getty

A new national program is set to revolutionise the landscape of palliative care in Australia after the government approved over $70 million in funding for programs set to enhance palliative care organisations and services around the country.

It is understood that universities, health services and palliate care organisations will be allocated $53 million to develop new palliate care plans.

Camilla Rowland, the CEO of Palliative Care Australia, expressed her appreciation for the funding, emphasising its value and assuring that it will be put to good use.

“Many of these projects focus on improving education and training for the primary care, acute care and aged care workforces,” Rowland said.

“Building skills and awareness within the wider healthcare community will increase access to palliative care which will deliver better quality of life for people with life-limiting illness and better grief and bereavement outcomes for their loved ones.”

In a statement, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said: “The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that people affected by a life-limiting illness will get the care they need to live well.”

An additional $15.9 million will fund the End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) project, which aims to enhance the palliative care skills of aged care workers.

“All aged care workers require knowledge and skills in providing palliative care, yet many aged care workers do not feel confident to provide such care,” ELDAC project lead Professor Patsy Yates said.

According to Yates the ELDAC project “includes three associated work streams that provide information and education for aged care staff, as well as support for aged care providers to build their organisational capacity to provide palliative care.”

Meanwhile, the University of Wollongong (UOW) will be awarded over $11 million to fund two programs –the National Palliative Care Coordination (NPCC) and Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration Programs– which aims to improve the coordination and collaboration between palliative care patients and their carers.

NPCC aims to improve care for individuals with life-limiting illnesses, reducing unnecessary hospital visits and enhancing access to palliative care. It also focuses on better outcomes for underserved populations in regional and rural areas.

While National Palliative Care Coordination Framework provides support to primary care physicians, such as community-based GPs, nurse practitioners, and treating specialists, in managing palliative care issues. It also helps them in referring patients to specialist palliative care for more complex cases.

“Australia has an ongoing challenge to ensure patients and their carers receive equitable and effective care,” the programs Chief Investigator Associate Professor Barbara Daveson said.

“National agreement regarding what distinguishes the need for primary versus specialist palliative care is lacking, and national specialist palliative care referral and discharge criteria don’t exist.

“The new funding for the National Palliative Care Coordination program is designed to help address this by establishing models and systems to effectively respond to increasing burden of chronic conditions in Australia.”

News of the palliative care funding comes weeks after Immigration Minister Andrew Giles announced that a new visa pathway has been set to help tackle the country’s industry-wide aged-care labour shortage.

According to Giles, the pathway is “fundamental to addressing key skills shortages” and further “reaffirms the Government’s commitment to addressing skill shortages within the care sector.”

“The delivery of this labour agreement is only possible because of the Albanese Government’s commitment to slash the visa backlog of almost one million and get our migration system working again in the interest of all Australians,” he said.

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