Aged Care

Resources provide guidance on advocating for loved ones

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Palliative Care Victoria has launched a groundbreaking initiative aimed at improving the quality of care for older adults.

Called “Dignified and Respectful Decisions,” this initiative educates Australians on the importance of discussing end-of-life plans with their loved ones and working collaboratively with aged care teams to enhance living and dying experiences in residential aged care.

Spearheaded by Palliative Care Victoria and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and the Victorian Government Department of Health, the project offers a range of resources designed to inform and empower families and substitute decision-makers.

These resources provide guidance on advocating for loved ones and making treatment and care decisions, all while fostering effective collaboration with aged care teams.

The initiative was officially launched in Melbourne, featuring a panel of esteemed experts in aged and palliative care. Moderated by renowned health economist Stephen Duckett, the panel included:

  • Associate Professor Barbara Hayes, (University of Melbourne) an advanced care Planning Palliative Care specialist.  
  • Sandra Hills OAM, CEO of Benetas, one of the leading not-for-profit providers of residential aged and community care services in Victoria. 
  • Karen Kessner, an occupational therapist from the North and West Metropolitan Region Palliative Care Consortium. 
  • Nola Horne, a family member with lived experience was the primary carer for her husband living with dementia. 

Palliative Care Victoria CEO Violet Platt emphasised the importance of fostering collaboration between the community and the aged care sector to ensure dignified and individualised care for elderly residents in aged care facilities.

“Not only are we able to respect a person’s wishes, we can also support an aged care and health sector under pressure, by reducing futile actions which also makes sense economically,” Platt said.

Dr Stephen Duckett stressed the need for policy reforms and increased family involvement in end-of-life care, acknowledging the emotional nature of these discussions.

According to a recent report from the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care, over half of palliative care professionals cite the lack of established advanced care plans as a significant barrier to providing successful end-of-life care. Fulfilling patients’ wishes remains a key challenge in delivering end-of-life care.

Recognising Victoria’s diverse population, the “Dignified and Respectful Decisions” project aims to provide culturally inclusive resources that reflect the diversity of families across the state. With support from both federal and state governments, the initiative seeks to empower families to make informed and respectful decisions for their loved ones in aged care settings.

Platt emphasised the importance of informed decision-making at the end of life, highlighting the resources provided by the project as valuable tools for guidance during challenging and emotional times.

This article was also published in the Third Sector.

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