Palliative care resources providing more choice for terminally-ill patients to stay at home

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is part of a consortium of nine organisations conducting the caring@home project.


29 Oct 2019

One year on from the official launch of caring@home, the real difference the project resources are making to home-based palliative care is becoming apparent.

The Australian Government-funded project has produced a range of free resources to support healthcare professionals to train carers to help manage breakthrough symptoms safely using subcutaneous medicines for terminally-ill people who want to be cared for, and to die at home, if possible.

Professor Liz Reymond, Palliative Medicine Specialist and caring@home Project Director said that since the project was launched one year ago, it has distributed 3,300 caring@home packages for carers to specialist palliative care services, community-based health organisations, rural and remote health services and GP practices all around Australia.

“Latest statistics show that 70 per cent of Australians want to die at home, but most do not achieve this. If symptoms are well-controlled, the person is likely to be able to stay at home for longer and avoid unwanted hospital admissions. caring@home resources may assist with this,” Prof. Reymond said.

Towards the end of life, palliative care patients with Level 3 & 4 Home Care Packages may need subcutaneous medicines for breakthrough symptom control. Home Care Package providers can use the free caring@home resources to educate carers and support patient-centred and high-quality palliative care outcomes for clients and their families, meeting Aged Care Quality Standards #1,2,3,7 & 8 and the Charter of Aged Care Rights.

Health professionals have reported how valuable the caring@home resources are in assisting patients and families at the end of life. 

Jacqui Culver, a Nurse Practitioner from NSW said that the package provides health care professionals with tools and resources to meet the final hurdle of timely symptom management at home, at a time when families often feel powerless and dependant on medical support. 

Carers who have been trained to give subcutaneous medicines using the caring@home resources have graciously given feedback on their experience:

“We would recommend it to anybody who wants to care for their loved one at home. Absolutely recommend the whole process - the package, the care, the support, the encouragement we were given.”

“There’s no reason why any carer shouldn’t be able to give subcutaneous medicines… any carer should feel that they can handle the situation if they have enough training and practice.”

In addition to the caring@home package for carers, other resources for services and healthcare professionals include:

  • palliMEDS, an app for prescribers of palliative medicines, developed by NPS MedicineWise;

  • Guidelines for the handling of palliative care medicines in community services, developed by NPS MedicineWise;

  • Example policy and procedures for use by services;

  • Online education modules for nurses; and

  • Translated carer resources in six commonly-spoken languages.

 

The project is undertaken by a consortium including: Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative (lead agency), Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), CareSearch, NPS MedicineWise, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), Leading Age Service Australia (LASA) and University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

 

More information:  caring@home resources are free and can be ordered or downloaded from www.caringathomeproject.com.au

Contact the project team: caringathome@health.qld.gov.au or 1300 600 007