• Palliative Care: Core business in aged care

    Palliative Care: Core business in aged care

    On a quiet Tuesday at Resthaven’s head office in Wayville, South Australia, a group of 45 Resthaven employees took part in a Palliative Care Workshop, facilitated by Karen Gregory, Resthaven’s Palliative Care Advanced Practice Nurse, and Claire Tan, Palliative Care Clinical Nurse.

    The workshop included presentations from both Karen and Claire, as well as from Relieving Chaplain Kim Thoday. Presentations were also heard from representatives of Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, and the Residential Care Outreach Team at Flinders Medical Centre. Altogether, the information is varied and valuable, and it’s sessions like these that Karen says are so important in supporting Resthaven employees to provide comprehensive, holistic services to Resthaven clients and residents.

    Palliative Care Australia advocates that palliative care is core business in aged care,’ Karen says. ‘Resthaven strongly supports ongoing education and training to build staff capacity and confidence in providing palliative and end of life care.’

    As Palliative Care Week approaches (May 19-25), Karen wants people to know that palliative care is more than just the final days of someone’s life, and that families with loved ones in residential aged care facilities should feel confident that there is a team at each Resthaven home that is able to provide comprehensive palliative and end of life care for residents.

    ‘Palliative Care Week is a great chance to highlight the important work aged care providers do in caring for older people at the end of their lives,’ Karen says.

    What is palliative care?

    The primary goal of palliative care is to optimise quality of life for anyone who has a life limiting condition. Individuals may receive palliative care for months or at times, several years. Palliative care provides relief from not only physical symptoms, but also has a focus on assessing and addressing psychological and spiritual needs.

    ‘Good palliative care helps to frame dying as a normal process,’ Karen says. ‘ELDAC (End of Life Directions for Aged Care) advocates that “death is a normal part of life”. Palliative care does not try to hasten or postpone death. We offer a support system to help people live as well as possible, up until their death.’

    Palliative care uses a holistic team approach, to ensure that all the needs of residents, clients and their families are met.

    ‘If there are complex symptoms, extra support may be needed and accessed through specialist palliative care services,’ Karen says. ‘Good palliative care can improve a person’s comfort and enjoyment of life. We often see residents and clients who experience a whole new quality of life thanks to palliative care.’

    If you would like more information, Resthaven is hosting free one-hour sessions throughout July about Advance Care Directives and Palliative Care, as part of our information sessions around ageing. Learn from Resthaven’s clinical educators, and other experts, with tickets available to all members of the community. Book in now to attend a session near you.

    Additional resources:

    • SA Health provides many resources and information for those wishing to seek palliative care services.
    • Palliative Care Connect provides links to palliative care and bereavement supports in South Australia to those who are dying and their loves ones.
    • Dementia Australia is the national peak body supporting people living with dementia, their families and carers.
    • palliAGED is the palliative care evidence and practice information resource for the Australian aged care sector.
    • ELDAC provides information, guidance, and resources to health professionals and aged care workers to support palliative care and advance care planning to improve the care of older Australians.