Improving Palliative Care in Australia and Developed Societies

In Australia, the average life expectancy is around 82.50 years. In other developed societies it’s also common to live that long. Although there are cases of early deaths, it’s good to assume that most of us will reach a ripe old age.

However, with that long life expectancy comes the higher risk of getting cancer and other diseases. After all, advancing age is the most important risk factor for cancer. It’s true that some people get certain types of cancer early on but our advancing age still is something we should pay attention to. Also, we are getting good at avoiding certain kinds of deaths (due to infectious diseases, accidents) and it comes with living longer (which increases the risk of getting cancer).

Healthcare and inevitable death

Many cancer patients (and in many cases they are elderly people) have somehow made preparations about their farewell. But this doesn’t mean that the last days or weeks should be spent in loneliness and discomfort. In fact, more and more patients now opt to get palliative care as early as possible so they can still spend their lives in comfort. This way, people with life-limiting conditions can still maximise the quality of their life.

In line with this, many government agencies recognise the importance of palliative care for ensuring the patients’ comfort at the end of their lives. For instance, the NSW Government had provided $35 million in additional funds over 4 years (from 2012 to 2016). The main goal was to improve access to care and support for people who are dying, their families and their carers.

Palliative care is an essential component of modern healthcare services and that funding is crucial for patients to have access to excellent facilities and clinicians. It’s an amazing step towards ensuring comfort of people with life-limiting conditions at the end of their lives. In addition, their carers and families can somehow better focus on the patients’ comfort.

Improving palliative care

It’s only the first step in improving the care being received by patients. One recommendation is that to get palliative care as early as possible (instead of referring terminally ill patients in the last days of their lives). There might still be opportunities for recovery but ensuring the patients’ comfort early on can make a huge difference. After all, often they will have severe mobility restrictions and enjoyment of life outdoors might become harder and harder.

Another recommendation is to ensure that the palliative care facility revolves around the patients’ requirements and comfort. High-quality hospital chairs and beds can make a huge difference especially when patients need to spend extended periods of time sitting or lying. A bright and natural environment might also help them and their families feel at peace. These are great ways for better dealing with the entire experience.

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