Dementia and palliative care – meeting the need in Australia’s future

Palliative Care Australia and Dementia Australia have framed nine recommendations to deliver better quality of life to people, families, and carers travelling life’s journey with dementia, icnlduing those in Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay.

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) chief executive Camilla Rowland said “Dementia is the biggest health issue facing Australians over 65 years.

“We need to better integrate dementia care and palliative care so that the 400,000 Australians currently living with dementia can make the most of life – and for a lot of those people, that will mean many years of quality living and relationships.”

To that end PCA and Dementia Australia, have just updated a long-standing joint policy statement as part of ongoing advocacy efforts in the face of increasing demand for care.

“Demand for palliative care is increasing, we are on a trajectory towards a 50% increase in the next decade and the need doubling by 2050,”she said.

“The growing number of Australians with dementia is a key driver, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report that the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to more than 800,000 by 2058.

“Central to meeting that need is having a workforce that is trained and available.”

The joint policy statement speaks to that and makes nine recommendations including:

-Compulsory dementia and palliative care education for all health and care professionals involved in the delivery of care for people living with dementia.

-Early involvement of the person with dementia, and their family members and carers, in discussions about palliative care.

-Flexible models of palliative care which enable health and care professionals to provide the right care, at the right time and in the right setting to accommodate the changing needs of people living with dementia, and their carers.

-Improved access to specialist palliative care services in the community to address the complex needs of people living with dementia and their carers, and to enable greater choice in the type of care that is provided.

-The implementation of nationally consistent advance care planning legislation to reduce jurisdictional confusion.

-Encourage individuals to link advance care plans to their My Health Record to ensure they can be accessed by all health professionals involved in the care of the individual in a timely manner.

Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said, “dementia is a terminal illness and appropriate palliative care is an essential element of quality care for people with dementia, and for their families and carers.”

“While we acknowledge the contextual complexities of dementia care within the different health care and community settings, it is essential that streamlined services are developed and accessible for more effective home and community palliative care experiences.

“Improving palliative care for people with dementia, no matter where they live, must be a policy priority, Australia-wide, across the states and territories.”

The full joint policy statement is available on the Palliative Care Australia website.