Dementia Australia has welcomed an announcement by the federal government to invest $57.2 million to improve palliative care in aged care facilities across Australia.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the funding announcement coincided with the beginning of National Palliative Care Week, which ran from Sunday 24 May to Saturday 30 May.
“Dementia is a terminal illness and appropriate palliative care is an essential element of quality care and end of life care for people with dementia, and for their families and carers,” Ms McCabe said.
“Families and carers frequently report feeling stressed and confused about accessing end of life care services, and feel guilt and pressure to make immediate decisions for their loved ones often in the absence of knowing the wishes of their loved one.
“It is important that improved palliative care is made a priority across Australia.”
The Dementia Australia discussion paper released late last year, Dying well – Improving palliative and end of life care for people with dementia, provided recommendations for how state and territory governments, in collaboration with the federal government, can improve palliative care for people with dementia, their families and carers.
These included the need for flexible and responsive funding models, better community awareness of dementia and palliative care, increased workforce training about the unique palliation needs of people with dementia, more emphasis on advance care planning, and improved access and service coordination – including the expansion of Dementia Australia’s Nightingale Program.
The Nightingale Program, currently only available in South Australia, is the only nurse-led, dementia-specific palliative care program in Australia – providing practical advice and emotional support on a one-to-one basis to enable people with dementia and their families to live well via a palliative approach.
“For the most effective outcome, the federal government will need to work closely with the state and territory governments to ensure aged care staff have a better understanding of the specific palliative and end of life care needs of people with dementia to provide quality care for people in the advanced stages of the disease,” Ms McCabe said.
“We are optimistic that the funding will be used for innovative models of palliative care and we look forward to working with all levels of governments to make that happen.”