After the recent introduction of aged care reform into Parliament, a peak body is asking the Labor Government to include palliative care within the plans for 24/7 nursing in residential aged care.
Palliative Care Australia (PCA) has made a submission to the upcoming October Budget, asking the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, and Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, to include funding for aged care nurses to be trained in palliative care.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PCA, Camilla Rowland, said that the new push for 24/7 nursing in aged care should include compulsory palliative care training for Registered Nurses so that residents are missing out on vital end of life services.
“Currently, over one-third of all deaths in Australia occur in residential aged care, and it’s a real postcode lottery as to whether those people receive palliative care.”
PCA is supportive of the Government’s commitment to ensuring Registered Nurses are available in aged care 24/7, but wants to take the opportunity to “make ground on the growing need for palliative care” in the aged care sector.
The Aged Care Royal Commission even recognised that palliative care needs to be a part of the core business for aged care providers.
Ms Rowland said, “It’s heartening to hear of the Minister’s commitment to aged care reform and see progress in this sitting of Parliament – the whole community has been inspired, and we are hoping to be a partner in this work and incorporate palliative care training early in the reform agenda.”
PCA explained in the Budget submission that “death is an important part of life” and looking at the future of aged care, it expects the demand for palliative care to increase by 50% by 2035, and then double by 2050.
Ms Rowland wants the Government to start making headway on palliative care in the industry now, rather than leaving the issue to progress further.
The PCA submission to the Federal Government includes an outline of the funding needed to meet the growing palliative care demands in aged care, as well as a strategy for developing a stronger palliative care workforce across Australia.
In the PCA October Budget submission, the funding figures requested are:
Ms Rowland added that while there was already “enormous pressure” on the Australian Budget, the need to invest in palliative care will reduce costs on the wider health care system, including through reduced hospitalisations of older people.
“We stand ready to work with the Government not just to improve and grow palliative care services but also play our role in Budget repair,” said Ms Rowland.