Advance Project expands to include GPs, nurses and allied health staff

A $2 million Federal Government grant will equip GPs and other clinicians working in primary and chronic care settings with the skills to initiate conversations about advance care planning and to screen for palliative and supportive care needs.

HammondCare’s Director of Centre for Learning and Research in Palliative Care, Associate Professor Josephine Clayton, said the funding would lead to improvements in the skills of doctors, nurses and allied health staff working with older people and younger adults with chronic and debilitating illnesses.

“It is imperative that health professionals in primary and chronic, complex care settings are equipped to assist patients to plan for end-of-life and palliative care and to receive guidance and education about which patients would benefit most from referral to specialist services before they reach a crisis point”, she said.

“Providing skills development through education and training for frontline health providers will significantly strengthen understanding around the importance of advance care planning and confidence to initiate conversations about it to facilitate patient uptake.”

The project builds on the current Advance Project, which targeted nurses working in general practices.

During the delivery of the initial training program for general practice nurses, there was strong demand for similar training from other health professionals, including nurses in other primary health and chronic care settings, GPs and allied health workers in primary and chronic care.

“We have already developed a unique evidence-based toolkit and training resource and our focus will be on adapting and delivering these to new groups of clinicians to enable a team based approach to assessing and addressing patients’ needs for advance care planning and palliative care.”

A/Prof Clayton said research had shown there was a lack of confidence in initiating discussions around advance care planning and assessing patients’ palliative and supportive care needs in a sensitive and efficient way.

Head of Research for HammondCare, Professor Chris Poulos, said Advance II would enable health professionals working in primary and chronic and complex care settings to address patients and caregivers’ identified needs and concerns about palliative care and advance care planning.

“Patients have a strong rapport and relationship with their local doctor and the training and mentoring will help doctors and other health professionals to address issues when patients come in for a routine health assessment and provide them with on-going support,” he said.

“Through a network of champions, we will be able to build a sustainable model that will continue to highlight the importance of advance care planning and palliative care for people who need it.”

Professor Poulos said an ageing population and the growing prevalence of chronic complex health conditions mean that increasing numbers of people will require palliative care as they approach the end of life.

“According to the Australian Government’s Intergenerational report, around nine million Australians will be aged 65 and over by mid-century, including two million people aged 85 and over – compared with just 500,000 today.

“The AIHW’s Australia’s Health report states that 50 per cent of Australians live with at least one chronic condition and one in four (23%) have two or more chronic diseases. It also notes that people aged 65 and over are much more likely to have multiple chronic conditions.”

The new Advance project is led by HammondCare working in a consortium with University of Sydney, Flinders University (CareSearch), Austin Health, University of Queensland, University of Technology Sydney, University of Wollongong and La Trobe University. It will include:

  • Consultation with relevant health professional bodies to identify the highest priority groups of clinicians for the new program and to tailor the resources and training for their specific needs.

  • Development of online learning resources for the new groups of clinicians.

  • Individual tele-mentoring for participating clinicians from across Australia.

  • Grants and train-the-trainer support for champion networks to deliver face-to-face training and to support the implementation of the model into clinical practice.

  • Evaluation of the program.

For more information about the current Advance Project, go to:

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