Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration

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Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration

The Palliative Care Outcomes Program (PCOC) aims to improve palliative care patient and carer outcomes. PCOC is a mature and well-established collaborative. We report on population-level outcomes for Australia.

Most specialist palliative care services across Australia (metropolitan and non-metropolitan) are registered with PCOC in a voluntary capacity. PCOC supports palliative care providers to identify and measure the impact of their service on people with life-limiting illnesses and their carers, including families.

PCOC has shown that in Australia over the last decade:

  • Those with great need may be disproportionately burdened due to limited access to specialist palliative care as:
    • Access to services by those who experience the greatest socioeconomic disadvantage got worse, and
    • Only a relatively small number of culturally and linguistically diverse (n≈2,851) older adults with Alzheimer’s and other dementias accessed specialist palliative care throughout the country. (There were approximately 150,845 overseas-born older adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias living in Australia in 2022)
  • Whilst some areas of most concern to patients and families have improved, one in five instances of severe distress related to pain experienced by patients with life-limiting illnesses did not improve or their distress worsened.
  • Referral pathways into specialist palliative care have not changed meaning most patients are referred only after they have an encounter of care in a hospital.

PCOC helps drive systematic improvements through national analysis and reporting like this, but also by engaging in quality improvement and reporting at the individual patient and clinical service level, state and territory, and regional levels.

We achieve this through:

  • Close collaboration with the clinical services registered with the program and clinical leads across the country,
  • Embedding routine standardised assessment frameworks in clinical settings,
  • National and service-level benchmarking, and
  • Ensuring PCOC information is available to all state, territory, and Commonwealth Government agencies to ensure optimal palliative care outcomes for all Australians.