Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist Oct 2013 Contents 18 Australian Pharmacist October 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Palliative care and dementia care changes call
Palliative care experts have joined with
their colleagues in the field of dementia
to highlight the palliative care needs
of people with dementia and to call for
changes to be made to improve services
to these people.
At the 12th Australian Palliative Care
Conference in Canberra, Australian of
the Year and President of Alzheimer's
Australia, Ita Buttrose was joined
by Senior Australian of the Year and
palliative care physician, Professor Ian
Maddocks to launch a joint statement
which focusses on the need for care to be
holistic, person centred and delivered by
a multidisciplinary team.
In addition, the statement calls for
dementia specific palliative care to be
available when and where it is needed.
Ms Buttrose pointed out that end-of-life
care for a person with dementia
differed from other terminal conditions
because dementia was a long and
'People put off thinking about their
end-of-life care for as long as they
can, but it is important to have these
discussions early so that family members
can ensure their wishes are carried
through,' Ms Buttrose said.
'Early planning and discussion is all the
more crucial for people with dementia
because as the disease progresses it
is likely that the person will lose the
capacity to participate in decision making
about their end-of-life care.'
Professor Maddocks said that for many
people dementia was a scary subject,
'just like talking about death scares us'.
'Palliative care, aged care and dementia
care call for common values, attitudes
and practices to ensure best outcomes.
All three present uncertainties in what
lies ahead. By being better prepared to
talk about them, we can handle things
better,' he said.
The joint statement by statement by
Alzheimer's Australia and Palliative Care
Australia seeks better access to palliative
care services through the expansion of
training, knowledge and support in areas
such as aged care, acute care and primary
care, and for there to be increased
availability of palliative care services in
the community to enable people with
dementia and their carers to have greater
choice as to where they receive care.
It highlights that people with dementia
have the right to live as well as possible
until the end of life, and to die peacefully,
with dignity and in a way that respects
Australia will face an increasing demand
for palliative services with an estimate of
some 120,000 people needing such care
annually in the near future.
This was the prediction by keynote
speaker -- Professor Irene Higginson at
12th Australian Palliative Care Conference
Professor Higginson, who is the Scientific
Director of Cicely Saunders International
and has published over 250 scientific
papers in peer review journals and
14 books on palliative care and end of life
care, said Australia would see an increase
the number of ageing individuals and
subsequently the number of people
requiring palliative care within the
'Since 2001 there's been a steady
increase of about 1 per cent in the annual
number of deaths, and if you look at
that from a needs assessment point
of view, and you look at the 150,000
deaths registered in Australia each year ,'
Professor Higginson said.
'We might be estimating that each year
in Australia 120,000 people might be
needing palliative care.'
Professor Higginson praised the
Australian palliative care and the progress
made in this area over recent years
'I would like to reflect and congratulate
you here in Australia because I do believe
you've made fantastic strides in the
development of palliative care,' she said.
'You have a growing an evidence base,
which is growing, or exceeds that, of
anywhere in the world,' she said.
Palliative Care Australia and
Alzheimer's Australia have called for:
• People with dementia to have access
to palliative care that respects their
wishes and dignity.
• The early involvement of the person,
where possible, and family, carers
and close friends, where appropriate,
in the decision making and delivery
of palliative care.
• A flexible model of care which
enables health care workers to
provide the right care at the right
time to accommodate the changing
needs of people with dementia as
the disease progresses.
• Increased availability of palliative
care services in the community to
enable people with dementia and
their carers to have greater choice as
to where they receive care and the
type of care.
• Action to improve access to
palliative care services through the
expansion of training, knowledge
and support in the community, and
in areas such as aged care, acute
care and primary care (particularly
• All Health and aged care facilities to
provide appropriate care to people
with behavioural and psychological
symptoms of dementia so that no
person is turned away from these
services because of their diagnosis
• Health professionals to encourage
individuals to discuss and document
their end of life care wishes when
services are commenced.
• Increased availability of information
and support around planning end
of life care during the early stages
• Nationally consistent advance
care planning legislation to reduce
jurisdictional confusion and provide
protection to health professionals
and community members.
• Advance care plans linked to the
Personally Controlled eHealth Record
(PCeHR), if the person with dementia
wishes, to ensure they can be
accessed by all health professionals
involved in the care of the individual.
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