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Life before death: improving palliative care for older Australians

Centre for Independent Studies calls for more investment in palliative care

There is a gaping chasm between the supply of, and the real demand for, palliative care in Australia, according to the Centre for Independent Studies, in its report released this week.

It notes that it is ironic that the two places where most Australians die are arguably two places where you are least likely to receive palliative care – acute hospitals and residential aged care facilities.

Palliative care effective for chronic disease management

The report notes that palliative care is often misunderstood as purely end-of-life care.

Palliative care – properly defined – is a form of chronic disease management that can help address the wider challenges facing the health system.

Expanding access to palliative care services would ensure that patients with incurable and chronic conditions receive person-centred and cost-effective care – not only in the terminal stage, but earlier – to improve the quality of their lives well before death.”

The author of the Centre for Independent Studies Report. Dr Jessica Borbasi, cautions that there is a significant danger in Australia of palliative care being reduced to care that is provided in the terminal stage. She says this underestimates the benefits for patients and families in their lives before death.

Ageing and death shrouded in myths of desolation and indignity

The failure of the health system to adapt to the changing nature of ageing and death, and to provide quality care to the elderly and dying, has meant that this time of life has become shrouded in myths of desolation and indignity.

The report finds that access to palliative care is like a postcode lottery – it’s the lucky Australians who receive palliative care.

Greater investment in palliative care the solution

The report recommends an investment approach to provide widespread access to palliative care and its quality of life and cost benefits.

A palliative care policy is required that ensures comprehensive access… this is a public health issue, as well as an ethical and economic issue.

You can download the full report below.

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