An innovative new project has started in Metro North to help improve people’s choice around end-of-life care in aged care facilities.

Community and Oral Health Community Palliative Care Staff Specialist Dr Bill Lukin said our Specialist Palliative Care in Aged Care (SPACE) Project aimed to improve access to specialist palliative care and better coordination of end of life care for nursing home residents.

“We are providing specialised support and advice to aged care facilities, so that care coordination is better placed to allow aged care residents to have their last moments in a place of their choosing,” Dr Lukin said.

“Our team is helping residents avoid being sent to emergency departments through better support, care, partnerships, education and planning.”
Since commencement of the project in early 2021, the project team has visited and is working with the majority of the Residential Aged care facilities in the Metro North catchment area.
“We understand that excellent care is being delivered in residential aged care, but people on an end-of-life pathway should not have to leave their homes to get the care that they need,” Dr Lukin said.

“Specialist palliative care clinicians from Community and Oral Health are visiting aged care facilities to guide discussions about end-of-life care with the aim of strengthening the skills and understanding of staff.

“They will also provide support to patients, families, nurses and the GPs who visit aged care facilities.

“Using Palliative Care Needs Rounds we discuss the care of a handful of the residents who are nearing the end-of-life and who may not have a plan in place.

“This provides an opportunity for case-based education for staff on symptom and medication management, advance care planning, end of life law, and communication.”
As part of the project we are also building partnerships and better connections between residential aged care facilities and specialist palliative care services at hospitals.

The SPACE Project is being delivered by Metro North Health’s Community and Oral Health directorate under the Better Quality of Care – Comprehensive Palliative Care in Aged Care Measure to support older persons living in Residential Aged Care facilities.