The Centre for Independent Studies has just released a research report entitled Life Before Death: Improving Palliative Care for Older Australians. The author, Dr Jessica Borbasi estimates that 130 000 Australians should have received palliative care last year but only approximately 14 300 did. She notes that our current health system is geared towards an acute health care model which is not fit to deal with the huge rise in people suffering and dying from chronic disease. These people would benefit most from early access to palliative care but reform is needed to move to a model of long-term, coordinated, person-centred care.
The report explores the changing nature of disease and death in contemporary Australia and the benefits of palliative care including evidence-based improvement in quality of life and cost effectiveness. It examines the problem of inequitable access to palliative care for those with non-malignant disease, especially for those residing in residential aged care facilities. There is discussion on the challenges for service provision, policy limitations, funding arrangements, workforce issues, barriers to access and cultural obstacles in both the medical and lay communities.
Finally, Dr Borbasi suggests some concrete solutions as to how to improve life before death, such as all doctors should be capable of providing palliative and supportive care, especially for their elderly patients.
To read the full report, click here.