Australians show overwhelming support for palliative care access in aged care

Australians are firmly in favour of aged care residents having appropriate access to palliative care, with the majority also supporting aged care workers having the skills required to deliver the care, new national survey data released today reveals.

The latest National Palliative Care Community Survey shows that 96% of Australians believe it is important that aged care services provide palliative care to their residents with the understanding that palliative care improves the quality of life for people nearing the end of life and their families.

The findings also showed two in three Australians believe that palliative care training should be mandatory for all aged care workers.

With over one-third of all deaths in Australia occurring in residential aged care facilities and the demand for palliative care rising rapidly, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) CEO Camilla Rowland says governments must invest adequately in palliative care and plan for our future ageing population, or the community will suffer the consequences.

“It is clear that Australians want their older loved ones to have the respect, dignity and care they deserve at the end of their lives that palliative care can offer,” Ms Rowland said.

“We know there are already too many people forced to miss out on palliative care in our aged care facilities, which will only worsen as our older population grows.”

“It’s critical that we have the appropriate funding in place, together with training and support systems for staff. Failing to do so will mean that more and more Australians face painful and traumatic end-of-life experiences.”

Commissioned each year by PCA and conducted by Pure Profile, the 2022 National Palliative Care Community Survey explores Australia’s attitudes around palliative care, end-of-life, death and dying.

The survey findings add further weight to PCA’s efforts to address a severe $427.5 million per annum funding shortfall in palliative care ahead of the Federal Election.

PCA recently released its Roadmap to guide decision-makers on the investments and initiatives needed to deliver high-quality palliative care for all Australians who need it.

Informed by the Roadmap are two projects that would directly improve palliative care access in aged care by increasing the number of aged care nurses trained in palliative care and increasing access to specialist palliative care services for residents living in aged care facilities.

“We have the solutions ready to ensure all Australians who need palliative care will receive it, when and where they need it. And we’re excited about working with the Government to deliver on these solutions,” Ms Rowland said.

The national survey results have been released ahead of National Palliative Care Week 2022, which will be held from Sunday 22 May to Saturday 28 May, with the theme – Palliative Care It’s Your Right.

National Palliative Care Week is Australia’s largest annual awareness-raising initiative to increase understanding of the many benefits of palliative care.

During the week, virtual and face-to-face events will be held across the country to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment and dedication of all those working and volunteering in the palliative care sector across Australia.

National Palliative Care Community Survey – Key Findings:

• 96% of Australians believe it is important that aged care services are able to provide palliative care to their clients/residents.

• 92% of respondents support the World Health Organization statement that palliative care is explicitly recognised under the human right to health.

• Most Australians have heard of the term ‘palliative care’ (92%) and would be likely to ask for palliative care for themselves, or someone close to them, if they had a serious, prolonged or terminal illness (76%).

• 88% of people believe it is important to start thinking and talking about their wishes and preferences for care (if they were to become seriously or terminally ill), but despite this, well over half of Australians (56%) have not undertaken any action regarding talking about or recording their end of life wishes.

• 73% of people understand that palliative care can be given alongside curative treatments.

• Of all the people that had a loved one experience palliative care, most had a positive experience (59%), 37% a mixed experience and only 3% described the experience as negative.

• 59% of respondents were not aware that children up to 18 years of age can also receive paediatric palliative care.

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PCA Media Release - Australians show overwhelming support for palliative care access in aged care

 

Media contact: Jayme Markus – jayme.markus@palliativecare.org.au – 0401 944 905