Enable nurses to care for sickest Australians

Optimising the contribution of nurses in palliative care will enable the health care system to better meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of Australians with a life-limiting illness, delegates at the National Nursing Forum heard today.

“We call on politicians at all levels to collaborate with nurses in palliative care policy development and health care planning to improve the quality of life of patients and their families when faced with lifethreatening illness,” said Australian College of Nursing (ACN) CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN.

“Nurses make up a large component of the palliative care workforce in Australia. ACN advocates for increased support for nurse-led palliative care models to ensure Australians receive holistic, comprehensive care services that reflects and respects their own individual choices and circumstances.”

Chair of the End of Life Care Policy Chapter, Distinguished Professor Patsy Yates FACN addressed the National Nursing Forum and outlined the recommendations of ACN’s White Paper ‘Achieving Quality Palliative Care for All: The Essential Role of Nurses’.

The actions from the Paper include:

Action 1: provide funding models that address the needs of existing palliative care services and facilitate dedicated nursing positions across metropolitan and rural/regional settings. Funding models must provide for the development of education programs and professional development to enable the design, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based nurse-led models/ interventions to ensure optimal outcomes for all Australians with life-limiting conditions.

Action 2: provide funding models that address the needs of existing palliative care services and facilitate dedicated nursing positions across metropolitan and rural/regional settings.

Action 3: undertake a workforce planning activity to ensure sufficient numbers of nurses are available to meet growing demand for nursing services in palliative care.

“Research shows that nurse-led models of care can benefit individuals and our broader community by improving survival rates, quality of life, and patient satisfaction with their care and reducing hospital admissions and health care costs,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.

“In further acknowledging Australians’ right to dignity at this vulnerable stage of their lives, ACN has invested in providing a Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care. This will ensure nurses are equipped with the skills and knowledge to deliver best practice care, whilst maintaining a person-centred focus.”

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