Study highlights need for further education

After a hospital-wide, multi-disciplinary study uncovered staff perspectives on palliative care, researchers at St John of God Murdoch Hospital have identified a need for education at all levels and roles throughout the hospital.

Chair of Nursing Professor Leanne Monterosso said the study, which was completed in December last year, highlighted the need for greater understanding regarding palliative care.

“We found there was varied knowledge amongst a large proportion of caregivers regarding of palliative care and referral processes,” said Professor Monterosso.

“We hope to rectify this through targeted education programs and development of palliative care pathways.”

It is a common misconception that palliative care is only for those who are dying but in fact, its main focus is on the management of symptoms and maximising quality of life for patients with a life-limiting illness.

In recent years, palliative care as a medical specialty has evolved and patients now may receive palliative care referrals whilst still undergoing active treatment. This means that some patients will transit in and out of palliative care throughout the duration of their illness.

Participants of the study from all disciplines and areas of the hospital responded to a survey followed by four focus groups to further explore some of the themes identified in the questionnaire.

“We identified some barriers to referral of patients who would benefit from a palliative approach and we hope that through education, we will enable a smooth transition from hospital to palliative care services either in the community or in a hospice setting,” said Professor Monterosso.

The results of the Emergency Department component of this research were presented at the 2013 Australian Society for Emergency Medicine and are soon to be published in the Emergency Medicine Australia journal.

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