Productivity Commission calls for increased palliative care

Many people approaching the end of life miss out on quality end-of-life care.

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

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?



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    6th Jun 2017
    More access to palliative care is a good thing if it prevents us from going into ICU and the slow conveyor belt of suffering to death. But lets hope that more palliative care doesn't prevent access to euthanasia.
    6th Jun 2017
    I am passionate and worked nationally in palliative care and I agree there is certainly inadequate palliative care in aged care facilities and in inequality in metropolitan areas. If palliative care was acknowledged by general practitioners and we discussed how we wish to die more openly we would not be having assisted dying conversations. Why is there more conversations about euthanasia than good palliative care.
    6th Jun 2017
    Indeed there should be more funding and better access to palliative care both at home and in aged-care facilities - couldn't agree more. My late husband spent the last 18 months of his life in residential care (after I had cared for him at home for over 6 years) and towards the end of his life I asked the facility manager if palliative care would be available to him in situ rather than him having to go to a hospital Good Palliative care was available at the care facility, and given to him by the staff to ease his end of life journey, for which I am forever grateful. Having seen a loved one slowly waste away I am a big advocate for both palliative care and euthanasia if palliative care pain relief does not help a person.

    6th Jun 2017
    Do the members of the Productivity Commission realise that their pontifications will need to be paid for by someone. This forum is full of excellent ideas but most cannot come to fruition because of a lack of funding. It's the same with the Heritage Council which makes orders on owners of heritage listed properties. No member of the Heritage Council has to pay for the work thay claim has to be done and they don't really care. What is the use of these organisations when they achieve nothing except stirring up an already angry population.
    6th Jun 2017
    I don't know the figures but would guess that palliative care in the home is cheaper than ICU which, bearing in mind the staff to patient ratio there, costs an arm and a leg.
    My mother had palliative care in her aged care facility which was in fact very simple and administered by the RN - a subcutaneous cut of morphine. If she had been taken to ICU and placed on a ventilator or dialysis she would have suffered a lot more than she did.
    6th Jun 2017
    I live in a country town - you can just imagine how much palliative care there is in the country!
    13th Jun 2017
    I know a lady with plenty of medical knowledge who in addition to that, studied and upgraded her skills, then became a voluntary palliative care giver. She visited patients in their homes administering medications and giving them (and their families) emotional support. Legally some really strong medications can only be administered in a hospital or a nursing care facility. Sometimes she also sat with patients overnight until she was 80 y.o. then told younger volunteers they needed to find another person to do those. She continued doing day time treatments until she had a stroke.

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