Training GP nurses in Newcastle, Central Coast to talk about death

Newcastle and Central Coast nurses working in general practice will take part this week in a national program that gives nurses the skills to talk to older patients and patients with chronic and debilitating conditions about planning for their end of life and death.

jolan stokes 250The national, federally funded program, Advance, is designed to introduce advance care planning into general practices in a sensitive and routine way. It will also help identify people who may benefit from a thorough assessment of their supportive care needs and consideration of early referral to palliative care.

A team of academics and health professionals from across Australia and the United Kingdom were involved in the development of the training materials and the program is being delivered by a consortium led by HammondCare.

The Newcastle training will take place tonight (Wednesday, April 5) at Hunter HNECC PHN and will be followed by a similar session tomorrow (Thursday, April 6) at EV Church in Erina.

Important gap filled

Associate Professor Josephine Clayton, Staff Specialist Physician in Palliative Medicine, with HammondCare, said the program filled an important gap in addressing the future health wishes of people at risk of deteriorating and dying.

“Health professionals can feel uncomfortable discussing dying with their patients,” she 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.”

Specifically, the program will focus on initiating a conversation about planning for future health care, particularly in case the person ever became too unwell to speak for themselves.

“At this stage, we will be training nurses in general practices because their ongoing relationship with patients means they are ideally placed to provide a full supportive care needs assessment. This assessment will help to see if the patient, and their carers, have any unmet needs,” Associate Professor Clayton said.

National roll-out of training

Training is taking place across all metropolitan cities and major regional centres nationally during the first half of 2017. Scholarships are available to regional and rural general practice nurses wishing to attend.

There is also an online training program which has been endorsed by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA).

The Advance Toolkit has been officially recognised as an accepted clinical resource by the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Media: For further information or to arrange an interview please call HammondCare Public Affairs on 02 92686727. Website: