This week is National Advance Care Planning Week: 1 – 5 April 2019. Advance care planning is a conversation about how we wish to be treated under circumstances in which we are not able to speak for ourselves, because a serious or life changing illness can happen at any age or stage of life.
Advance care planning considers what matters most and what is most important for quality of life. To increase the capacity of staff to support older people and their families from the very beginning of an end of life journey, Resthaven has introduced a new role, ‘Project Officer Palliative Care’.
Resthaven Senior Manager Clinical Services, Leonie Robson, says, ‘The Project Officer Palliative Care (POPC) role was introduced following recommendations from the University of Western Sydney’s evaluation of Resthaven’s existing Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner role in 2017.’
‘Whilst our Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Peter Jenkin, provides direct clinical care as well as developing systems and processes around palliative and end of life care, the evaluation recommended that more work take place to embed this important work at each residential care home.’
‘Resthaven’s Project Officer Palliative Care, Karen Gregory, subsequently commenced in January 2018 and continued throughout 2018-2019.’
‘As part of her project, Karen completed a visit to all twelve Resthaven residential homes, where she worked to embed the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT) into assessment and care planning processes.’
‘Karen also provided mentoring to staff and general practitioners in planning and conducting Palliative Care Case Conferences with residents and their families, and provided education to all staff groups – nurses, personal care assistants, housekeeping, lifestyle, physiotherapists, clerical officers, social workers, and chaplains.’
‘Feedback from staff and families has been overwhelmingly positive about the support provided.’
‘One excellent example of the outcomes we achieved is the experience of a resident whose palliative care case conference involved her daughter. The case conference was an important turning point in helping her daughter, not just with preparing for the impending death of her mother, but also with working through her emotions and unresolved grief relating to the death of her father some time earlier.’
‘The resident’s daughter had not been able to talk through the decisions she had made for her father and never knew if she had done all she could have done. This weighed heavily on her mind.’
‘Being involved in the palliative care case conference for her mother assisted her to ask those questions and release those emotions. It was a very powerful and positive experience for her and helped her enormously at the time of her mother’s subsequent, expected death.’
‘It is gratifying to see the importance of having the role of Project Officer Palliative Care in achieving such positive outcomes for Resthaven residents and their families.’
Karen says, ‘It was a great team effort. I supported the Care Coordinator, who showed amazing empathy and compassion, and the Clinical Nurse, to host the Palliative Care Case Conference with the resident’s doctor, and this ultimately lead to the best outcomes for this family.’
Leonie says, ‘Karen’s work as Project Officer Palliative Care complements the work of Peter Jenkin, the Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, who is supported by all of the Resthaven Clinical Services team.’