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Anglican Palliative Care Support Team (NSW)

Castle Hill, NSW

Building Palliative Care Capacity

The Donald Coburn Centre, Warrina Village Hostel, Flinders Court, Brian King Gardens, Nuffield Village, Roden Cutler Lodge, Newmarch House, St Luke’s Village, Mary Andrews Retirement Village Hostel, Elizabeth Lodge (Rushcutters Bay)

Residential - Metropolitan - Multiple locations - Organisational wide or multiple home program

Award descriptors

  • Clinical care/medication management
  • Workforce development

Conceiving a palliative care registered nurse pathway that countered increased clinical needs, and answered an organisational demand to attract more registered nurses to aged care.

About the program

The transition to residential care at the beginning of the 21st century was determined by an older person’s social and welfare needs; it was more likely to be about lifestyle choice than the clinical care required. In more recent times an aging population has become an ever increasing challenge across the western world.

Admission to residential care is often necessitated by complex medical, nursing, social and behavioural care needs. The expectation is that most residents will remain in the care home until they die, a palliative approach to care being adopted. Taking into consideration the acuity and complexity of the health of these residents many of whom are living with multiple comorbidities, frailty and advanced dementia there is an imperative for staff to be competent in the delivery of quality end of life care.

Across the organisation a need was identified to educate RNs who would be competent in the delivery of both a palliative approach to care, confident in their response to complex symptom management and passionate in ensuring that the residents in their care died as good a death as possible.

 In response to this identified need a palliative care RN pathway was conceived that countered not only the increased clinical needs but also answered an organizational demand to attract more registered nurses to aged care offering a career pathway that was an alternative to the usual career advancement in aged care through management.

The organisation had previously employed palliative care clinical nurse consultants (CNCs) who were able to facilitate such an innovative response to the challenge. Partnerships were fostered together with a university and a government project already established that provided clinical experience in the palliative approach. An education program was developed that would provide a pathway to clinical nurse specialist in palliative care. 

Since 2014 there have been 32 Registered Nurses employed by our aged care organisation who have participated in this education program to enhance their skill in the delivery of a palliative approach and end of life care.

This program was expected to deliver evidence of advance care planning discussions resulting in documented advance care plans, a decrease in transfer to acute care for end of life care.  An improvement in confidence in the management of symptom management contributing to family satisfaction in the care of their loved ones at the end of life. Additionally it was hoped that there would be an increase in RNs satisfaction with a designated career pathway as recognized advanced skilled clinicians adding to fulfillment in their careers.

A proven and tested model to assist in the care of the aging, improving the quality of palliative care delivered within the care home is worthy of consideration by all aged care organizations allowing for modification to local circumstances.

More information on this program

Christine Lancaster at  or call 0449901917

Friday, 21 December 2018 - 6:18am