Palliative Care

What is meant by the term palliative care, when and where it is provided and by whom.

Page last updated: 26 February 2019

Comprehensive Palliative Care in Aged Care

As part of the 2018-19 Budget, $32.8 million over four years from 2018-19 to 2020-21 was announced for the Comprehensive Palliative Care in Aged Care measure (the Measure) which will improve palliative care for older Australians living in residential aged care.

The Measure supports new and innovative approaches to how care is delivered by state and territory governments to improve palliative and end-of-life care coordination.

It also strengthens national efforts to improve access to quality palliative care as a key component of an integrated health–aged care system.

For more information, go to the Key Facts Budget 2018-19 – Better Quality of Care - comprehensive palliative care in aged care.

The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018

The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 (the Strategy) represents the commitment of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to ensuring the highest possible level of palliative care is available to all people. It builds on previous strategies and on a legacy of investment into research, education and training, workforce and service development, and community awareness and engagement. This version of the Strategy has been produced following the 2016 evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 and has been developed through extensive consultation with Commonwealth, state and territory health departments, carers, peak bodies for consumers and service providers, clinicians, service managers, and a range of public, private and not-for-profit organisations involved in palliative care.

The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 (PDF 6.1 MB)
The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 (Word 771 KB)

The purpose of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 is for it to be used by all Australian governments, as well as organisations and individuals, in guiding the improvement of palliative care across Australia so that people affected by life-limiting illnesses get the care they need to live well. The Strategy provides a shared direction and an authorising environment for the continual improvement of palliative care services in Australia.

The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 has six guiding principles, which are identified as fundamental to ensure that all people experience the palliative care they need.
The guiding principles are:
  • Palliative care is person-centred care
  • Death is a part of life
  • Carers are valued and receive the care they need
  • Care is accessible
  • Everyone has a role to play in palliative care
  • Care is high quality and evidence-based
The Strategy has seven goal areas, each containing a number of priority statements framed as descriptions of the achievement of the goal.
The goals are:

Understanding: People understand the benefits of palliative care, know where and how to access services, and are involved in decisions about their own care.

Capability: Knowledge and practice of palliative care is embedded in all care settings.

Access and choice: People affected by life-limiting illnesses receive care that matches their needs and preferences.

Collaboration: Everyone works together to create a consistent experience of palliative care across care settings.

Investment: A skilled workforce and systems are in place to deliver palliative care in any setting.

Data and evidence: Robust national data and a strong research agenda strengthen and improve palliative care.

Accountability: National governance of this Strategy drives action.

Implementation

The implementation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 will be guided by an Implementation Plan. An Implementation Plan will articulate, within a five-year timeframe, the activities critical to realising the priorities identified in the Strategy. The Implementation Plan will be developed by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, with the Commonwealth providing national leadership and policy direction as well as supporting national programs, and the state and territory governments providing quality palliative care and policy development in their jurisdictions.

Monitoring and Evaluation

A Monitoring and Evaluation Plan will be developed to provide the mechanism for ongoing assessment of the progress made to achieve the goals. Data collection will contribute to the annual monitoring and reporting as well as to the longitudinal evaluation of achievements over the five-year timeframe for the Implementation Plan.

Evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 – Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life

This evaluation was undertaken to determine the relevance and useability of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 – Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life. The evaluation was informed by an evidence review as well as national consultation through workshops, in-depth interviews, and online submissions.

Evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 - Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life (PDF 1329 KB)
Evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 - Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life (Word 891 KB)

Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care Measure

As part of the 2017-18 Budget, $8.3 million over three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20 was provided for the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care measure (the Measure) which will improve palliative care coordination through Primary Health Networks (PHNs). The Measure will build on existing infrastructure and current Australian Government investment in primary health care, to better coordinate and integrate primary, secondary, tertiary and community health services to support at home palliative care.

For more information, go to the web page Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care Measure - Frequently Asked Questions www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/greater-choice-home-palliative-care-measure-faq

The National Palliative Care Projects

The Australian Government funds a range of national palliative care projects primarily focused on education, training, quality improvement and advance care planning.

Collectively these projects aim to improve access to high quality palliative care through education and training for the health professionals and aged care workers, and raise awareness of planning for end-of-life care.

Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services

The Australian Government also funds specialist palliative care and advance care planning advisory services nationally to aged care providers and general practitioners providing health care for recipients of aged care services.

A consortium led by the Queensland University of Technology will undertake this activity commencing in 2017-18.

The specific objectives of the Advisory Services are to:
  • provide specialist palliative care and advance care planning advice to aged care providers and GPs providing health care for recipients of aged care services;
  • improve linkages between aged care services and palliative care services;
  • improve the palliative care skills and advance care planning expertise of aged care service staff and GPs providing health care for recipients of aged care services; and
  • improve the quality of care for aged care recipients, prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and shorten hospital stays.

Whereto Research- GP Best Practice Research Project

In 2016, the Department engaged Whereto Research to undertake a study into awareness, attitudes and provision of best practice palliative care within General Practice. The project was completed in March 2017.

The study identified that GPs are interested in learning more about palliative care and would like local sources of information and easily absorbed and applied resources.

Findings from this research were disseminated through Primary Health Networks and will inform future policy.

For further information about the findings the final report is available here.

Research into awareness, attitudes and provision of best practice advance care planning, palliative care and end of life care within general practice (PDF 1027 KB)
Research into awareness, attitudes and provision of best practice advance care planning, palliative care and end of life care within general practice (Word 5290 KB)