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Tools to help allied health professionals with palliative care

Photo: Tools to help allied health professionals with palliative care
Nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) continually make decisions as to when and how to continue or modify care, and in the choice of advice and educational materials to share with clients, families and carers. In making care decisions, AHPs draw on the best available research evidence along with clinical expertise, the patient’s values and circumstances, and the clinical context.

Not always a specialised role, the growing demand for palliative care means that AHPs are increasingly likely to see clients with palliative care needs. Palliative care provides a support system for people living with a life-limiting condition to live as actively as possible for as long as possible. The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018  highlights the importance of evidence and person-centredness as essential ingredients of quality palliative care. The strategy emphasises the importance of access to trustworthy resources for people receiving and providing palliative care. It also stresses that the evidence base be accessible and integrated into education and training for care providers and carers.
To support AHPs working in any setting looking after a person with palliative care needs, the Allied Health section offers evidence-based and peer-reviewed information, tools and resources. A similar section exists to support nurses. For AHPs, “Getting Started” links to a selection of tailored resources that explain important aspects of palliative care and help build confidence in using evidence to inform and improve palliative care practice.

Current best evidence is the foundation of effective, efficient and safe care, yet finding the best evidence can be time-consuming. CareSearch provides tools to help nurses and AHPs find and use evidence. This includes PubMed searches on a multitude of topics and sections dedicated to Searching for Evidence and Using Evidence in Practice.

Providing advice or education to a client, their family or carers can enable them to adjust and adapt to consequences of the illness. Education and counselling are therefore an integral part of palliative care. CareSearch and palliAGED host trustworthy information and resources for clinicians to offer to people in their care. The My Information Kit makes it easy to select factsheets to print out for clients, carers or colleagues.

Continuing professional development (CPD) helps AHPs to maintain and improve knowledge, skills, and personal and professional qualities. The CareSearch Education section proposes a range of evidence-informed learning resources. The eLearning resources for nurses and AHPs provide opportunities for independent learning. Through these options, nurses and AHPs are supported to focus on delivering evidence-based care.

Article By Susan Gravier, Research Associate, CareSearch, Flinders University, South Australia
Susan trained as a physiotherapist in Adelaide and worked in regional Victoria, Canada and Hong Kong. She is now a researcher in palliative care, having worked on healthy ageing and active ageing projects for many years. In 2016-2017, Susan coordinated the production of palliAGED, writing many of the topic pages in the Evidence and Practice Centres. CareSearch and palliAGED are Commonwealth Government-funded online resources that pull together and consolidate evidence-based information and resources into accessible language and formats. CareSearch provides evidence-based palliative care information across the lifespan and across the health system, palliAGED provides that information for the aged care sector. Susan is currently leading the allied health component of the CareSearch and palliAGED Engagement Project (www.caresearch.com.au/EngagementProject).

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