GPs called on to participate in landmark aged care survey

01 May, 2014

GPs are being asked to participate in an important new survey that aims to map the provision of palliative care and advance care planning services around Australia for the first time.

The online survey, conducted by a consortium of leading national health, aged care and academic organisations, is part of a $15 million federal government project working to improve access to palliative care and advance care planning services in the aged care sector nationally.

Associate Professor Bill Silvester, Director of the Respecting Patient Choices program at Austin Health in Melbourne, leads the project and said the survey seeks to capture the knowledge of GPs, aged care professionals and specialist palliative care services, so that an accurate picture of services can be obtained.

"GPs and managers of aged care services have a good understanding of the palliative care and advance care planning services currently available in their local area, so it is really important that as many as possible participate in the survey, because the results will determine how program resources can be targeted to those in most need," Associate Professor Silvester said.

"If participation is low, then it becomes harder to identify areas of genuine need and communities won't benefit to the extent they could."

Findings from the survey will be incorporated into the first ever national environmental scan of the sector, with the information used to develop a suite of programs under the Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services Project.

Other initiatives include a 24 hour hotline for GPs and aged care providers to call for specialist palliative care and advance care planning advice, as well as education, training and web-based resources for health and aged care professionals to enhance their skills in palliative care and advance care planning.

The consortium appointed to implement the Advisory Services Project comprises Respecting Patient Choices, Palliative Care Australia, CareSearch, the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA), and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA).

The Project is funded by the Australian Government under the Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform package, which was developed in response to recommendations made in the Productivity Commission's Caring for Older Australians report.

The survey closes at midnight on 23 May 2014.