The Importance of Palliative Care

Australia’s population is continuing to age and the demand for palliative care services is rapidly increasing. As a nation, we are struggling to meet the growing need for specialised resources in palliative medicine, a topic that has been highlighted in recent news media.

Palliative Care Australia has revealed that only one palliative medicine specialist is available for every 704 deaths each year. Concerningly, this means that people are not receiving the care that they desire and deserve at the end of their lives, and some are passing on in discomfort and fear instead of peace and dignity.

‘While the Productivity Commission says that 70 percent of Australians request to die at home, Palliative Care Australia estimates that a mere 14 percent actually do – a result of having just 213 palliative medicine specialists nationwide.’Sydney Morning Herald

Palliative Care Australia is now calling on the Turnbull government to make palliative care reforms a national health priority and have even suggested that a ‘National Palliative Care Commissioner’ be appointed as a means to improve current conditions.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care can be described as improving the quality of life for patients who are faced with a life-threatening illness. The aim is to achieve the best possible quality of life for the individual, to prevent suffering and relieve pain by means of early identification, treatment and continual assessment of the individual’s needs. The patient’s preferences are considered in accordance with family and carers, either at home, hospital, hospice or in a residential aged care facility.

Twilight Aged Care Services: Palliative Care

At Twilight Aged Care, we ensure the highest level of palliative care for all residents. We have a comprehensive range of aged, dementia and palliative care services as part of our
Residential Aged Care offering.

Our palliative care service includes spiritual, emotional and physical comfort, and encompasses good communication with and support for the resident’s family both during the final stages of illness and in the bereavement period.

Our Palliative Care Services include:

  • Relief of pain and other symptoms
  • Assistance for families to come together to talk about sensitive issues
  • Counselling and support for emotional, social, spiritual and cultural concerns
  • Resources or links for medical equipment, home help and financial support
  • Referrals to respite care services

Important things to consider

As we age, it is important to establish and communicate our preferences around our end-of-life chapter. The Department of Health offers an extensive range of information on
Palliative and End-of-Life Care, including how to approach difficult conversations with loved ones and the types of questions to ask yourself.

  • What do you want for your end-of-life care?
  • Does your family or carer know what you want for your end-of-life care?
  • When the time comes, where would you like to receive care (home, hospice, hospital?)
  • Who would make decisions about your end-of-life care if you were no longer able to?
  • Have you spoken to anyone about your end-of-life care plan?

Once you have considered what is important to you, you can discuss these wishes with a loved one or healthcare professional should you be faced with living with a life-limiting illness.

Useful resources for Palliative Care:

Whether you’re a patient, a carer, a family member or a friend, there are a number of useful and trustworthy resources available to those who require Palliative Care Services; particularly
My Aged Care, a platform established by the Australian Government that aims to provide reliable and current information about aged care services and management.

Other reputable organisations:

Palliative Care Australia – The peak national body for palliative care, whose aim is to influence, foster and promote the delivery of quality palliative care for all. Specialist care providers can be searched by location.

Advance Care Planning Australia – A national program that allows an individuals health care preferences be respected at a time when they cannot voice their decisions.

Palliative Care Knowledge Network – CareSearch – A one-stop online resource for palliative care information.

National Palliative Care Service Directory – Palliative Care Australia provides an online search of organisations that provide palliative care services and support, as well as access to information about these services.

It is important that we work towards an improvement in the support and training of nurses and specialists on the palliative care approach, and promote the education for ageing people and their families around the options available for end-of-life care.

At Twilight Aged Care, we understand the importance of palliative care, and we are committed to ensuring the highest level of support for the welfare of all current and future residents. If you’d like to discuss yours or your loved one’s palliative care options, phone us on 02 9414 4400 or visit our Contact Us page.

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