Palliative Care Australia defines Palliative Care (or End of Life Care) as “care that helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness”. It is all about ensuring that the comfort, care, needs and choices of people are managed as they near the end-of-life.
With an increasingly ageing population across Australia, the need for high-quality palliative care is paramount. It is important for older people to have access to end-of-life care in the setting of their choice. Settings which people choose are dependent on their personal circumstances and beliefs but can include their own home, a residential aged care home, an acute care hospital or a dedicated hospice service.
It can be a difficult and emotional topic to talk about, but it is important to remember that dying is a normal part of life. Timely, robust discussions between older people and their loved ones about their preferences can lead to better outcomes – where people can live the remainder of their lives to the fullest with dignity and in comfort, supported by their families.
Aged care providers are able to support older people and their families whether they are receiving home care or living in a residential aged care home. At Anglican Care, the ‘Palliative Approach’ has been adopted as a nurse-led care model for people living with a chronic life-limiting disease. The approach understands that as people approach the later years of life and require assistance with daily living, they have choices as to the medical treatment and interventions they find acceptable.
One of the key principles when talking about Palliative Care is the understanding that ‘comfort and pain management’ take priority over ‘cure’ for many people with a life-limiting disease. This often relies on a collaborative approach with a person, their family and medical professionals to explore what comfort means at this stage in their lifespan.
“Our experience has shown us that it is possible for older people and their families to have a positive end-of-life experience where a persons’ personality, life history and wishes are honoured and respected in a sensitive way”, said Janean Cole, Nurse Practitioner Anglican Care.