The changing landscape of palliative care and implications for allied health clinicians

Dr Deidre Morgan1, Ms  Deb Rawlings1, Ms Lizzie Button1, Professor Jennifer Tieman1

1Palliative and Supportive Services, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

Abstract:

Introduction:Allied Health (AH) clinicians are seeing increasing numbers of palliative care patients in generalist settings due to an ageing population and improved medical care of life limiting illnesses. This study sought to identify AH perspectives about palliative care given the implications for AH clinical practice, education and professional development. We present survey responses to a single open-ended question from the larger survey: “Please describe what you think palliative care involves for patients, families and the health practitioner.”

Methods:This survey was distributed to AH via email lists from a range of organisations including the CareSearch (an online palliative care resource) Allied Health Hub, and Allied Health Professions Australia. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and content analysis of free text responses. Ethics approval was received.

Results:Two hundred and seventeen AH responded to the survey. Analysis was undertaken of 187 useable responses to Question 1 and four themes were identified. 1. Palliative care employs a client-centred model of care, 2. Acknowledgement of living whilst dying, 3. Interdisciplinary palliative care interventions provide active care in a range of domains and 4. Characteristics of palliative care teams and settings.

Discussion:Allied Health have an active role to play in the physical, social, emotional and spiritual care of palliative care patients and caregivers. Given the increasing number of these patients seen in non-specialist palliative care settings, there is an imperative for AH, including those in rural and remote settings, to develop skills and competencies in order to provide optimal care.


Biography:

Deidre is an Occupational Therapist with a clinical background in acute care, rehabilitation and 13 years in specialist palliative care. Deidre’s research interests focus on the role of allied health in optimising function of people with advanced disease and implications for education and professional development. She has an active research interest in the relationship between dependence with intimate hygiene and dignity at the end-of-life and the physical impact of caring on informal caregivers. Deidre works as a researcher and lecturer in Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders University and is the inaugural chair of Australian Allied Health in Palliative Care.