What is The Advance Project?

The Advance Project is a free, evidence-based suite of practical resources and a training package specifically designed to support GPs, nurses and practice managers to initiate advance care planning conversations and assess patients’ and carers’ palliative and supportive care needs.

The Advance Project Toolkit of resources was informed by a literature review of the best available evidence about tools to support palliative care and advance care planning in general practice, as well as through input from an expert advisory group and feedback from general practice nurses, general practitioners and Carers Australia.

The Advance Project eLearning module for General Practitioners has been approved as a CPD activity by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and accredited by the Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine (ACRRM).

The Advance Project eLearning module for General Practice Nurses has been endorsed by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) according to approved quality standards criteria.

The Advance Project eLearning modules for General Practice Managers have been approved by the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM).

What is the aim of The Advance Project?

The Advance Project aims to enable better health care outcomes in Australian general practices through:

  • Enabling earlier consideration and uptake of advance care planning
  • Enabling more efficient use of general practitioner and nurse time in providing palliative and supportive care
  • Enabling more appropriate and timely referrals to specialist palliative care services if required
  • Increasing confidence and comfort levels for primary care clinicians to initiate conversations with patients and their carers about advance care planning and palliative/supportive care
  • Upskilling general practice managers to support general practitioners and general practice nurses to overcome any barriers to successful implementation of the Advance Project tools and resources into routine practice

Who is it for?

  • Registered and enrolled nurses who are currently working in Australian general practices
  • General practitioners currently working in Australia
  • Practice managers of Australian general practices

We can also provide train-the-trainer support to primary health networks (PHNs) to help PHNs support general practices to implement the resources in everyday practice.

What are the benefits of The Advance Project for general practice?

The team-based approach to initiating advance care planning and palliative care that is promoted by the Advance Project will help to break down some of the barriers to advance care planning in general practice. It will also enable the practice to more efficiently:

  • Identify patients who might be at risk of deteriorating and dying
  • Assess and address the supportive care needs of patients who might be at risk of deteriorating and dying
  • Assess and address the needs of carers of patients who might be at risk of deteriorating and dying
  • Identify patients who might benefit from early referral to specialist palliative care services

How is The Advance Project being evaluated?

In the first phase of the project, general practice nurses from across all states and territories of Australia took part in a mixed-methods program evaluation. Over 500 nurses participated. Feedback about the training was overwhelmingly positive, with nurses highly rating the quality and relevance of resources, and training to their clinical practice and value for their patients. In addition, there was evidence of significant and sustained improvements in nurses’ confidence, comfort, knowledge and attitudes towards initiating conversations about advance care planning and assessing patients’ and carers’ palliative care needs. Nurses also reported positive impacts for their patients and carers following the implementation of the resources in their clinical practice. Complementary training for GPs and practice managers was highly recommended to enable a team-based approach.

In the second phase of the project, participating GPs, nurses and practice managers again highly rated the training and resources. 19 general practices from across Australia took part in a mixed-methods evaluation of patients, carers and clinicians' experiences of utilising the resources in practice. Preliminary evaluation findings suggest positive experiences for participating patients and carers. The Advance Project model of initiating ACP and PC facilitated teamwork among GPs, nurses and practice managers, and encouraged them to work together to discuss their patients’ and carers’ needs and plan next steps together. Once analysed, the final results will inform the ongoing quality improvement of the program.

What are the future plans for the program?

The Advance Project has received further funding from the Australian Government to adapt some of the existing training programs and practical resources to develop a new suite of dementia-specific advance care planning and palliative care resources for frontline staff working in aged care and primary care. This new project running for three years from July 1, 2020, will tailor the existing Advance Project resources to be used with people living with dementia while developing new resources to enable primary and aged care professionals to:

  • Initiate conversations about ACP with people living with dementia at different stages of cognitive decline
  • Empower and prepare families to advocate for the person’s end of life care wishes in the future
  • Identify people with dementia who would benefit from a structured assessment of their palliative and supportive care needs
  • Systematically assess the palliative care needs of the person and assess their family’s needs for support and information
  • Identify those people with dementia who would most benefit from referral to specialist PC

The new training program and resources will target primary care nurses and aged care nurses, case managers, care coordinators and careworkers working in residential and community aged care, explaining how to use the resources in their everyday practice. We are currently consulting with various stakeholders to co-design the new training and resources.

Find out more about Phase 3 of The Advance Project

If you would like more information, or to register for the free resources or training please visit: theadvanceproject.com.au or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.