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National Palliative Care Week 2015: Why You Should Care

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National Palliative Care Week 2015

When was the last time you talked about your death and your family’s future?

If you can’t remember or haven’t talked about it at all, this is the week to discuss it.

National Palliative Care Week 2015 runs across Australia from May 24-30 with the theme is “Dying to Talk: Talking About Dying Won’t Kill You”. Event organizers Palliative Care Australia says it aims to encourage Australians to be more comfortable discussing their wishes and needs as they near the end of their lives.

You can participate in this national event by:

  1. Attending awareness-raising activities like Palliative Care Australia’s Trivia Nights in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra
  2. Organising your own local event to encourage others to talk about Palliative Care (don’t forget to tell PCA about it on their website)
  3. Contributing to the online buzz by using the hashtag #npcw15 on Twitter and Facebook
  4. Sending a letter to your MP to support the work of your community’s care givers (here’s a template to help you out!)
  5. Having a coffee with your loved ones to celebrate life and talk about death (Do you want to be buried or cremated? Hospice or at a home? What about a will?)

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a service provided to those who are terminally ill or are nearing the end of their life. This is a specialised service that addresses the needs of people who are dying as well as the needs of their families. These services are not restricted to their physical condition, palliative care also addresses their emotional, spiritual and social needs.

Palliative care aims to to provide relief from pain, help patients have an active life, help patients and families accept that death is a normal process, and support patients and families in coping with death.

It is about helping every person live as well as possible during their final days.

How is Palliative Care delivered?

Palliative care is different from typical curative treatments since it is not meant to either prolong their lives or hasten their condition.

Specialist physicians, nurses and aged carers encourage their patients and families to discuss their needs to come up with a care plan that respects their choices regarding their quality of life. This is used to maintain their patient’s dignity and make necessary preparations for them like reliving pain and providing comfort. Nurses, general practitioners and even psychologists take part in this as well.

You can see palliative care in action in a wide variety of locations. This includes general hospitals, hospices, nursing homes or even a patient’s private residence.

Why is this important for you?

You may not have direct experience of palliative care, but you should know that it is an important health service in Australia. Children and teenagers receive this kind of care as well and demand for it is expected to rise because of the country’s aging population.

If you are thinking of a career in aged care, providing palliative care may be a major part of your role. If you undertake courses in aged care, you will most likely receive training in this specific area. Qualifications such as the Certificate III in Aged Care or Certificate III in Home and Community Care incorporate units like CHCPA301B – Deliver care services using a palliative approach which help you develop the skills you need to provide care in this sensitive context.

Here are more reasons why you should be aware of palliative care: Palliative and Aged Care in Australia

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Summary

Palliative care affects a wide range of ages

The average palliative care patient is 72.2 years old and the majority of palliative care patients are over 65. However, children, teenagers and adults of all ages also require these services.

More Australians have been receiving palliative care over the past several years

There was a 52% increase in palliative care-related separations between 2002–03 and 2011–12

Cancer is the leading diagnoses for palliative patients

More than half of patients in palliative care-related separations in 2011-2012 had been diagnosed with a form of cancer.

Australia’s population is aging

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that up to 25% of all Australians will be at least 65 years old by 2056.

Aged Carers are rising

Many more aged care professionals with palliative care skills will be needed in the future.

 

Check the Palliative Care Services in Australia report for more information.

 

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