HammondCare is sponsoring a four year study that could see paramedics play a larger role in palliative and end-of-life care in the community.
The PhD research, Palliative Paramedicine: Broadening the Role of Paramedics Delivering Palliative and End of Life Care in the Australian Community, is being supported by the HammondCare Foundation’s postgraduate research scholarships.
Researcher Madeleine Juhrmann will look at current paramedic approaches to palliative care by ambulance services across the state with the aim of developing national guidelines.
Ms Juhrmann says paramedics have a unique opportunity to support end of life care but their scope is currently limited to responding to emergencies and transporting people to hospital, rather than supporting them to remain at home.
She says GPs, community nurses and palliative specialists aren’t always available to visit a palliative care patient on short notice or after hours.
That’s where paramedics can come in.
“The default in this situation is to call an ambulance, more often than not resulting in the patient being transported to hospital,” she says.
“However, for people who have a progressive life-limiting condition, an acute hospital admission may not be wanted or the best setting to deliver palliative care.”
The research would see a shift away from palliative-related hospitalisations and empower paramedics to support palliative patients to remain at home.
Director of HammondCare’s Centre for Learning & Research in Palliative Care and Professor of Palliative Care at the University of Sydney, Josephine Clayton, says the research has the potential to improve and complement community palliative care in emergency situations.
Around 70 per cent of Australians want to die at home but 54 per cent end up dying in hospital, research shows.
There was 19.2 per cent increase in palliative-care related hospitalisations between 2010 and 2015, according to the AIHW.
HammondCare is commited to supporting palliative care through specialised services and community programs.
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