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New training in assessing and addressing palliative care and advance care planning needs

HammondCare's Associate Professor Josephine Clayton.

HammondCare is leading a new $2M project which aims to leave clinicians better equipped to initiate conversations about advance care planning and screen for palliative care needs.

The project will target GPs, nurses and allied health staff working with older people and younger adults with chronic and debilitating illnesses, providing online learning resources, tele-mentoring and provide face-to-face training.

According to HammondCare’s Director of Centre for Learning and Research in Palliative Care, Associate Professor Josephine Clayton, research shows a lack of confidence within the target group when it comes to initiating discussions about advance care planning and assessing patients’ palliative and supportive care needs in a sensitive and efficient way.

She said it was imperative that health professionals in primary and chronic complex care settings “receive guidance and education about which patients would benefit most from referral to specialist services before they reach a crisis point”.

 “Providing skills development through education and training for frontline health providers will significantly strengthen understanding around the importance of advance care planning and confidence to initiate conversations about it to facilitate patient uptake,” she said.

Associate Professor Clayton said the new project, Advance II, builds on a similar Advance Project, which targeted nurses working in general practice.

“We have already developed a unique evidence-based toolkit and training resource and our focus will be on adapting and delivering these to new groups of clinicians to enable a team-based approach to assessing and addressing patients’ needs for advance care planning and palliative care,” she said.

HammondCare’s Head of Research, Professor Chris Poulos, said patients had a strong rapport and relationship with their local doctor. The training would help GPs and other health professionals to address issues when patients attend for routine health assessments.

He said the mentoring and train-the-trainer support built into Advance II would ensure learning was ongoing, over the long term.

“Through a network of champions we will be able to build a sustainable model that will continue to highlight the importance of advance care planning and palliative care for people who need it,” he said.

HammondCare will work as part of a consortium to deliver Advance II, working with University of Sydney, Flinders University (CareSearch), Austin Health, University of Queensland, University of Technology Sydney, University of Wollongong and La Trobe University. The Federal Government announced a grant to support the project earlier this month.


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