Research

New study explore barriers to home-based palliative care

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In a groundbreaking research initiative, Silverchain and QUT will explore the barriers hindering individuals from accessing palliative care at home, where they often wish to spend their final days.

Led by QUT PhD student Norah Elvidge and supported by funding from Silverchain, the study aims to uncover key factors preventing people from receiving the level of palliative care needed for a comfortable end-of-life experience within their own homes.

Elvidge emphasised that while many express a desire for palliative care in familiar surroundings, numerous barriers exist, leading to unplanned hospitalisations and unmet care needs.

“Although many people have a desire for palliative care to occur at home, unplanned hospitalisations in the last weeks or days of life can occur,” Elvidge said.

Factors such as insufficient community resources, lack of primary carers, and discomfort or unpreparedness among individuals, carers and health providers contribute to these barriers, she added.

Professor Karen Smith, Silverchain’s National Director of Research and Evidence, stressed the importance of identifying and addressing these obstacles to ensure equitable access to end-of-life care.

“Silverchain offers comprehensive palliative care in the home, meeting acute care needs, but there are still inconsistencies across the sector nationally that create barriers for people needing to access this type of care,” Professor Smith noted.

“The extensive data and qualitative information from more than 40 years of Silverchain’s community palliative care services will provide significant insights for this research and help assess the barriers to accessing end of life care in the patient’s preferred place,” she added.

Elvidge’s research, supported by her background in nursing, aims to shed light on the factors that enable individuals to receive sustained palliative care at home and, ultimately, to pass away in a setting that aligns with their preferences.

“I hope that our findings will inform the development of strategies to improve access to home-based palliative care, leading to better end-of-life experiences for individuals and their families,” Elvidge commented.

“Ultimately I would like to see the research contribute to the development of strategies that improve end-of-life experiences and outcomes,” Elvidge said. “It may also inform health care policy and planning for economically sustainable models of care at the end of life.”

The study represents a significant step forward in QUT’s broader efforts to address real-world health challenges, according to Professor Jane Phillips, highlighting the university’s commitment to collaborating with industry partners to drive meaningful change in palliative care practises.

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