Nurses in general practices across Australia will soon have access to training to help older people and those who are chronically ill discuss advance care planning (ACP) and palliative care.
Through a federally funded program, called Advance, nurses will have access to free online training and face-to-face workshops, as well as reimbursements for those undertaking the assessments in their clinical practice.
A team of academics and health professionals from across Australia and the United Kingdom developed the training materials and a consortium led by HammondCare will deliver the program.
Associate professor Josephine Clayton, staff specialist physician in palliative medicine with HammondCare, said the ongoing relationship general practice nurses have with patients means they are ideally placed to provide a full supportive care needs assessment.
“Health professionals can feel uncomfortable discussing dying with their patients,” Clayton said. “But most patients and carers welcome the opportunity to talk about their symptoms, problems, concerns and priorities. The training the nurses will receive through the program gives them the skills to start the conversations with patients with empathy, care and compassion.”
The program aims to help break down some of the barriers to ACP in general practice and enable practices to more efficiently identify, assess and address the supportive care needs of patients who might be at risk of deteriorating and dying. It will also help nurses identify patients who might benefit from early referral to specialist palliative care services.
Training will take place across metropolitan cities and major regional centres during the next five months. Scholarships are available to regional and rural general practice nurses.
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