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Sector peak bodies agree on principles for end-of-life care

Aged and palliative care bodies have united to release a set of principles to help services in their approach to death and dying.

The principles were developed by Palliative Care Australia (PCA), COTA Australia, Alzheimer’s Australia, Aged & Community Services Australia, Leading Age Services Australia, Aged Care Guild and Catholic Health Australia and aim to ensure that people who are approaching the end of their lives in residential aged care services have the best death possible.

PCA chief executive Liz Callaghan said the principles reflect the need to recognise when an aged care resident is approaching the end of life; to ensure their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are assessed and met; and to ensure their dignity, privacy and diversity is respected.

The guide said: “In 2010–11, 75 per cent of the 116,481 people aged at least 65 years who died in Australia had used aged care services in 12 months before their death.

“Ensuring the availability of high quality palliative and end-of-life care services in aged care facilities and people’s own homes, will enable more older Australians to have a good death, better support their families and carers during the dying and bereavement processes and facilitate the better allocation of scarce health resources.”

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said a holistic and tailored approach to palliative care is crucial within the context of recent changes to the aged care service landscape.

Yates said: “Importantly, the principles also recognise the contributions of all those involved in the delivery of palliative and end-of-life care and the need to support aged care residents, families and carers through all stages of the illness and in bereavement.

“Palliative care is unarguably one of the most important services delivered by the aged care industry and vital to protecting the quality of life of older Australians as their lives draw to an end.”

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