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Palliative care standards updated

Palliative Care Australia has launched the fifth edition of the National Palliative Care Standards and the Palliative Care Service Development Guidelines, in an effort to better shape how palliative care is planned, funded and delivered across Australia in the next decade.

It is the first revision of the standards in 13 years.

Chief executive Liz Callaghan said the update was necessary because of changes within the health sector.

“Bringing these documents up to date will help guide governments, health services, health professionals and the public on what best-practice palliative care looks like, and how to ensure all Australians can access it when needed," she said.

“This fifth edition of the standards has reduced the number of standards from thirteen to nine. Importantly they have been mapped to align with other standards such as the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards and Aged Care Standards; these changes will make it easier for health services to implement and report against the standards.

"The new version of the standards will help specialist palliative care services build upon the improvements many of them [providers] have already made.

“The person receiving palliative care and their loved ones need to know what quality palliative care looks like, to work in partnership with their care team and ensure their physical, psychological, cultural, social and spiritual needs are met."

In the new guidelines, Palliative Care Australia calls for state and territory governments to fund two full-time palliative care consultants per 100,000 residents, to be employed at specialist palliative community care services.

The current national average currently sits at 0.09 full-time palliative care consultants per 100,000.

“Governments and health services must make it a priority to fund these positions, as well as ensuring the training pathways are there for doctors to be able to specialise in palliative care," Callaghan said.

"Together, these documents provide an overarching framework for the delivery of high-quality palliative care. These documents are also designed to complement the work being undertaken by the Commonwealth to update the National Palliative Care Strategy, due to be released later in 2018.

“I thank all of the members of the working groups who worked tirelessly to update these documents over the past 12 months."

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