End-of-life experts ramp up response

As part of Australia’s national response to the pandemic, experts in palliative care are combining forces to provide the best possible end-of-life care to the community.

The Flinders Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death and Dying CareSearch project team has joined forces with the Australian Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Palliative Care Working Group (ACPCWG), supporting vital nationwide preparation in the event of rapid  COVID-19 spread and mortality.

Evidence-based palliative care resources and expertise could be urgently needed during the pandemic, says CareSearch Director and Flinders University Professor Jennifer Tieman.

“In a rapidly changing environment, families, GPs and aged care providers may need to recognise and respond to the needs of a wide range of people, including those already in palliative care, those with progressive chronic diseases – as well as patients who are seriously ill as a result of a COVID-19 infection,” says

CareSearch has joined the working group to provide evidence-based online palliative care resources and expertise in the country’s response to the pandemic.

Led by Palliative Care Australia, the ACPCWG is a partnership of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM), Palliative Care Nurses Australia (PCNA), Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine (AChPM) of the Royal College of Physicians (RACP), End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC), Paediatric Palliative Care Australia and New Zealand (PAPCANZ), CareSearch and caring@home.

“Most people with COVID-19 infection experience mild illness and recover. But for some people severe infection with COVID-19 can be life threatening,” Professor Tieman says.

CareSearch director Flinders Professor Jennifer Tieman.

“This entails supporting all our health professionals and care staff across all settings, and all Australians with life-limiting illness, their carers, and families.”

For its part, CareSearch has developed a dedicated online and dynamic curated information hub for health professionals, care staff, and Australians with terminal illness and their carers and families.

The hub is based on a framework that supports the delivery of quality end of life care for everyone who needs it regardless of their age and place of care.

Professor Tieman says the hub resources aim to help front-line health workers make “informed decisions on pressing issues such as caring for the dying, communication, medicine management, ethics and self-care”.

Notably, the hub also provides practical and trustworthy information for patients, carers and families in the high risk age group of 70 years and over, people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50.

“CareSearch has always been proactive in supporting people at the end of life and those who care for them. During this challenging time, we remain focused on enabling our health professionals and the wider community to make informed decisions,” Professor Tieman says.

The CareSearch project team will continue to work closely with the ACPCWG to update guidance and to address new issues identified across the sector.

CareSearch COVID-19 information hub www.caresearch.com.au/covid19


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College of Nursing and Health Sciences