Calls for increased palliative care

Too many people approaching the end of life miss out on quality palliative care, according to a draft report from the Productivity Commission.

The Productivity Commission’s draft report on Human Services finds too much variability in the availability of care at the end-of-life.

“We need to see vast improvements in end-of-life care services both in homes and residential aged care facilities. We see far too many people stuck on a ‘medical conveyor belt’ at the end of their lives instead of getting the care they want, where they want,” the Productivity Commission’s Social Policy Commissioner Richard Spencer said.

“About 70 per cent of Australians would prefer to be cared for and to die at home, but don’t because they can’t access community-based palliative care. Instead people receive care and die in a place that is not of their choosing,” Mr Spencer said.

“All Australians should be able to receive high quality end-of-life care regardless of their circumstances, where they live, or the cause of their illness.”

The report recommends that state and territory governments substantially increase the availability of community-based palliative care and claims that it could even reduce the overall cost of care as community-based care can sometimes cost less to provide than hospital-based care.

The report also identifies a surprising lack of palliative care in aged care facilities.

“Four out of five residents of aged care facilities die there. But many often make traumatic and costly trips to hospital to receive end-of-life care that could have been provided in surroundings that are by now familiar to them,” Mr Spencer said.

The report suggests aged care facilities need more staff with the skills to lead and co-ordinate end-of-life care for residents, while consumers and their families need more information to help them select aged care facilities that deliver high quality end-of-life care.

Reforms to increase the rate and quality of advance care planning (a document communicating their wishes for treatment ahead of time), with primary care and residential aged care facilities leading the charge, is also among some of the suggestions listed in the report.

Submissions will be accepted on the draft report until July 14. For more information, go to www.pc.gov.au.

What do you think? How do you think Federal and State Governments could better address end-of-life care? Does the Productivity Commission’s report go far enough?

Related articles:
Lorna’s palliative care story
Understanding palliative care
Your right to die in Victoria
Housing system broken and unfair

Written by Ben

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