The Morrison Government will invest more than $56 million to improve end of life and palliative care for Australians.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck said as people approached the final stage of their lives it was vital they had access to the level of care they needed.
Of the 160,000 people who die in Australia each year, it is estimated approximately 50 to 90 per cent would benefit from receiving palliative care in the period leading up to their death.
More than $37 million will be provided to the 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) across the nation to expand the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care program Australia-wide.
“We’ve already seen a successful pilot program across 11 PHN sites, linking end of life care systems and services in primary and community care settings and increasing community awareness of local palliative care services,” Minister Hunt said.
“Our latest investment will ensure Australians can access appropriate care at the right time at home, while also aiming to reduce hospitalisation for palliative care.”
Minister Hunt said in addition $19 million will go towards three programs at the University of Wollongong and Queensland University of Technology, to improve end of life care in residential aged care.
The University of Wollongong will receive $8.9 million for the Palliative Aged Care Outcomes Program (PACOP) to help residential aged care facilities to identify residents and their families in need of palliative care support, and enable care that is responsive, timely and meets their individual needs.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will receive $10.1 million for two projects, including the Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA), which will provide targeted palliative care education and training onsite to aged care providers and staff.
The QUT End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) Linkages program will also be expanded to build workforce capacity and develop and improve coordination across the primary care, aged care, and palliative care sectors.
The programs from both universities will improve the palliative care skills and workforce capacity of more than 2000 aged care staff, benefitting many thousands of senior Australians in residential aged care every year.
The Morrison Government is working to ensure universal access to palliative and end-of-life care, by expanding home-based and residential aged care facility palliative care services.
This will add to the palliative cares services delivered through state and territory hospital systems.
Minister Colbeck, said the Morrison Government is addressing palliative care as part of its $17.7 billion reforms to aged care.
“Our Government’s response to the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety includes significant investment in delivering higher quality care in residential aged care,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC), commencing on 1 October 2022, will deliver fairer and more equitable funding to the sector for the delivery of care to the 240,000 Australians living in residential aged care facilities.
“The improved funding through AN-ACC includes support to deliver quality consumer directed palliative care to care recipients who enter residential care for the final stages of their life.”
He said the Government is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring access to high quality health services for all Australians, including during end-of-life care, through record investment in the health system.
This includes $294.1 million over 8 years from 2017–18, to strengthen the palliative care system, including national workforce education, carer support, quality improvement, national communications and research activities and advance care planning.