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State and Federal funding back Palliative Care Victoria

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Palliative Care Victoria, the state’s peak body for palliative and end-of-life care, has launched a groundbreaking initiative to change and enhance the quality of care for seniors. The initiative – Dignified and Respectful Decisions – educates Australians about the importance and power of discussing end-of-life plans with their loved ones and how to effectively collaborate with aged care teams to improve living and dying in residential aged care. 

Dignified and Respectful Decisions is driven and developed by Palliative Care Victoria, and jointly funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, and the Victorian Government Department of Health. 

The Dignified and Respectful Decisions project features comprehensive resources to educate and empower families and substitute decision-makers on how to advocate and make treatment and care decisions for their loved ones while collaborating effectively with the aged care teams. 

The project was launched today in Melbourne with a panel of some of the country’s best experts in aged and palliative care and moderated by renowned health economist and former Secretary of the Department of Human Services and Health, Stephen Duckett. Panel members include: 

  • 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, said,  

“Building stronger collaboration across all sections of the Victorian community, regardless of cultural background, with the aged care sector is fundamental to creating better, more dignified individualised care for our elderly population living in residential aged care facilities,” said Violet Platt, Palliative Care Victoria CEO.  

“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.” 

Dr Stephen Duckett added, “As a health economist, I’ve worked on the alignment between policy objectives and payment design in palliative care.” 

“Policy reforms are important and needed in Australia. So is the involvement of families in the end of life care. End of life is such an emotional and sensitive topic.” 

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According to Dr Duckett, having conversations about how they can work together to make sure they respect how patients choose to spend the rest of their days has to be their utmost priority. 

A recent report from the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care found more than half (54%) of palliative care professionals believe one of the greatest barriers to providing successful end-of-life care is the lack of an established advanced care plan, with clear directives from patients. 

The report also found that “fulfilling the patient’s wishes” was listed as one of the top five challenges for providing end-of-life care. 

Recognising the diversity of the population in Victoria, the Dignified and Respectful Decisions project encompasses a resource platform that is culturally inclusive and strives to reflect the diversity of families across Victoria.  

“Through the Dignified and Respectful Decisions project, with the support of Federal and State governments, we plan to equip families with the support they need to make respectful and empowered decisions with and for their loved ones in aged care,” added Platt.  

“Making informed decisions at the end of life which respects our loved one’s wishes is vitally important; we only die once and these resources provide us with important touch points to help provide guidance at a challenging and emotional time,” concluded Platt. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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