A University of Wollongong initiative has been recognised as a “pivotal program” in improving the standard of palliative care in aged care homes.
The Palliative Aged Care Outcomes Program (PACOP) was launched in 2021 to help staff in aged care homes identify and respond to the palliative care and end-of-life needs of individual residents.
Early last month (January) the program received the 2023 Future of Ageing Award for Palliative Care. The awards recognise leadership and innovation across Australia and New Zealand’s aged care sectors.
The program aims to improve the end of life and palliative care outcomes of residents in aged care homes, including pain, symptom control and psychosocial distress and the outcomes for residents’ carers and family.
Judges said: “Through a comprehensive approach involving standardised assessments, education, and benchmarking, PACOP has successfully improved care outcomes and empowered staff and residents in aged care settings.”
PACOP National Director Professor Claire Johnson said she was “honoured and delighted” to have the work of PACOP recognised with the award.
About 60,000 people die in residential aged care homes every year, with almost 40 per cent dying within the first year they are admitted.
The 2021 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety identified the need for immediate action to improve the quality of care for residents who were dying in aged care homes and Prof Johnson said this was where PACOP played a critical role.
“Our role is to help aged care homes and aged care organisations identify, understand and address the palliative care needs of their residents,” she said.
“We do this by helping aged care homes to embed the use of standardised outcomes assessments and tools, and to use the information gathered to respond in a timely way.”
PACOP provides a standardised national approach and consists of a screening process to identify residents with palliative needs and an assessment protocol used for daily assessment of those residents.