New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) gives an insight into palliative care in Australia.
“This AIHW data gives us a snapshot of how palliative care is delivered and is an important piece of the puzzle as government progresses reforms in primary health and aged care, which PCA hopes will improve access to palliative care,” says Camilla Rowland, Chief Executive Officer, Palliative Care Australia (PCA).
Among some of the findings of the ‘Palliative care services in Australia’ report, is that hospitalisations continue to increase.
“We are consistently seeing the number of palliative care-related hospitalisations increasing at a faster rate than for all hospitalisations – a 29% increase compared with a 10% overall increase over the seven years up to 2021-22,” Ms Rowland says.
“And the average length of stay is almost twice as long – 10.3 days for palliative care compared with 5.7 days for all hospitalisations.
“Increasing hospitalisations have a huge impact on the workings of our health system and perhaps means that people aren’t getting the choice they deserve at the end of their life.”
Beyond hospital care, as the AIHW acknowledges, general practitioners and the primary health sector can play an integral part in the delivery of palliative care.
Ms Rowland adds, “the 2022-23 Federal Budget introduced a new Medicare item for GPs to claim against, known as Level E, GPs now have the ability to charge for longer appointments, which we believe will benefit those seeking palliative care and allow people to stay at home.”
“The palliative care sector is working hard to upskill GPs and other primary health providers in palliative care. There are a range of education and training tools available to help meet the growing demand.”
Palliative care training and education for primary health:
- The Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care Program
- End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) Toolkits
- National Palliative Care Standards for All Health Professionals and Aged Care Services
- CareSearch Health Professionals Centre
- End-of-Life Essentials: free education modules and resources
- Oceanic Palliative Care Conference Education Hub
- PCA free online shop
“For most people with a life limiting illness, whether they are living at home or in an aged care facility - local GP’s, nurses, and allied health professionals can deliver the palliative care needed - outside of the hospital and specialist palliative care system, but many don’t have the training to do so, that needs to change,” Ms Rowland says.
“With our ageing population and growing burden of chronic disease, Australia is on track for a 50% increase in demand for palliative care and a doubling in need by 2050. (KPMG)
“Death and the dying process touches us all whether we are the one with a life-limiting illness, a carer, or a loved one dealing with grief – more and more Australian families need the support of palliative care.”
The full report from AIHW can be viewed HERE.
P: 0417 482 171