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Primary health network funds end-of-life training for residential aged care staff

HammondCare clinical nurse consultant Kelly Arthurs will lead the education program across residential aged care facilities.

A Primary Health Network (PHN) has stepped up to improve knowledge of end-of-life care at residential aged care facilities by funding HammondCare to upskill staff.

Sydney North Primary Health Network (SNPHN) has commissioned the education across 20 to 30 local facilities in order to reduce unplanned after-hours hospital admissions and improve timely access to specialist palliative care. It is the first time a PHN has funded HammondCare palliative care training for nursing home staff on this scale.

Each of the facilities in Northern Sydney will nominate two registered nurses and two care workers or enrolled nurses to participate in a full day of training on palliative care, advance care planning and end-of-life care. Staff will also undertake specific education and training modules, and be mentored by a specialist palliative care nurse during case conferences.

The program aims to build partnerships between aged care, general practice and HammondCare’s specialist palliative care services and will be evaluated on this basis by the University of Technology Sydney.

HammondCare general manager of health and hospitals, Stewart James, said specialist nurses would work closely with aged care staff to build a best-practice approach to caring for people who are dying or nearing the end of life.

“The emphasis will be on upskilling staff to ensure that the patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs are met, that pain is managed appropriately, and that dignity and privacy is respected,” he said.

Palliative Matters recently reported on the difference that HammondCare’s education was making at BUPA Aged Care in Seaforth, Sydney, where clinical nurse manager Melissa Millar is working to reduce avoidable hospital transfers.

SNPHN general manager, primary care advancement and integration, Cynthia Stanton said the primary health network wanted to explore new and innovative ways of delivering initiatives that would improve the quality of end of life in residential aged care facilities, and that these may be scaled up and delivered more widely in the future.

“This funding aims to provide a significantly improved experience for patients in residential aged care facilities and their families during the last stages of their life,” she said.

“For some, this may be the last few days and weeks of life. For others, it may be for many months, and for some, several years.”

During National Palliative Care Week this year, Palliative Care Australia highlighted how palliative care can help people accessing aged care services to have a high quality of life, right to the end of life.

For further information on participating in the program, call HammondCare clinical nurse consultant Kelly Arthurs on 0434 309 724 (during business hours).


  • Such a great initiative and partnership. Aged Care Staff will grasp the Education with open arms. Keeping the residents in the aged care facility and caring for them at end of life has been described as a most rewarding experience rather than transferring to an acute hospital.

    - Sharon Gibbens

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