National Palliative Care Strategy and Projects: Enabling Better Care
By Professor Jennifer Tieman, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University and CareSearch Director, Palliative and Supportive Services
With an ageing population, progressive chronic diseases and increasing rates of comorbidity, palliative care needs are increasing across the community. This has been reflected in an increasing presence of palliative care across health and care settings, including neonatal units, paediatric services, general practices, acute hospitals, residential and community aged care services, and generalist community services. The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 is a key policy document which is endorsed by Australian Health Ministers and informs palliative care across Australia.
There are six guiding principles underpinning the 2018 strategy:
- Palliative care is person centred care
- Death is a part of life
- Carers are valued and receive the care they need
- Care is accessible
- Everyone has a role to play in palliative care
- Care is high quality and evidence based.
While, direct palliative care service delivery is managed at the state level, the Australian Government funds a suite of National Palliative Care Projects which focus on education, training, quality improvement and advance care planning. They are seen to be a way to improve access to high quality palliative care through education and training for the health professionals and aged care workers. They are also seen as a way of building awareness of palliative care and supporting planning for end-of-life care.
caring@home is one of the projects that was funded in the 2017-2020 round. The stated aim of this project is to improve the quality of palliative care service delivery across Australia by developing resources that will support people to be cared for and to die at home.
Enabling choice in place of care is an important part of the strategy and projects such as caring@home reflect many of the principles of the 2018 strategy. It supports choice in the place of care, acknowledges and values the role of carers, recognises that many different people have a role to play in care, and is built upon evidence and contributes to practice evidence.
A comprehensive palliative care system that meets the diversity of Australia’s population and settings in which care is provided, needs many different elements to make up the whole. The caring@home project is an important part of this picture.