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The ELDAC Allied Health Toolkit: Building workforce capacity for quality end-of-life care

The ELDAC Allied Health Toolkit: Building workforce capacity for quality end-of-life care 761

A blog by Dr Olivia Farrer, Teaching Program Director and Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, Flinders University, and ELDAC Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The ELDAC Allied Health Toolkit is freely available through the ELDAC website. The toolkit is aimed at supporting Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) who play a crucial role in supporting the quality of life of residents and clients in aged care, particularly those who live with chronic health conditions and comorbidities. These professionals work alongside other healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurses, to provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to care.

However, the provision and management of care can be complex in aged care settings, especially for those at the end of their life. Palliative care becomes a critical component of care, and AHPs are essential in providing the necessary support to patients and their families. Palliative care isn’t currently taught consistently in allied health curriculum, resulting in AHPs' low confidence in supporting people who are at the end of life.

The toolkit is an evidence-based resource designed to support AHPs, including Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Speech Pathologists, in providing quality palliative care to their patients. It provides practical resources and information that can be easily integrated into their daily practice and is divided into three main sections; the Allied Health Team, Practising in Aged Care, and Guidance and Research.

The Allied Health Team

The Allied Health Team section of the toolkit describes each discipline and their role in supporting older people at end of life. This is coupled with tools and resources that AHPs can use in practice, such as screening tools or checklists, as well as resources to extend knowledge of palliative care practice and further learning.

Practising in Aged Care

This section of the toolkit contains more practical advice around the day-to-day provision of allied health services in aged care settings. Topics covered include:

  • referral streams
  • funding and rebates
  • telehealth, and
  • person-centred care.

There is also a dedicated page on end-of-life communication, with links to case studies and resources on improving skills in having sensitive conversations and initiating discussion around advance care planning with individuals and their families.

Guidance and Research

At present there is limited specific clinical guidance for AHPs working in palliative care. Instead AHPs often refer to a range of documents that support best practice in symptom or disease management applying an end-of-life lens. In this section of the toolkit, key documents have been collated for each discipline, along with more general palliative care guidelines.

In addition, for professionals seeking to stay current or explore emerging ideas for best practice, a link to the Caresearch ‘allied health’ search tool in PubMed is conveniently placed alongside links to evidence summaries on hot topics related to palliative care.

To help facilitate navigation of the toolkit we have developed two personal knowledge maps: one for AHPs new to palliative care, and one for experienced clinicians looking to stay current. Each interactive form will help tailor a page of links to content from the toolkit depending on your needs, with the option of printing of a PDF pack – a use could be including this in a new staff induction pack, or as evidence of continued professional development.

The toolkit will remain under regular development and updating, particularly in this dynamic landscape and emerging changes to clinical guidance and funding models – you can hear more about these topics by checking in with the Allied Health Toolkit blog on the homepage.

It is important to note that the toolkit is not a substitute for clinical judgment, and AHPs must continue to work closely with other healthcare providers to provide the best possible care. However, the toolkit is an excellent resource for AHPs working in aged care settings, as it helps them to provide the best possible care for their patients at the end of their life.

 

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Dr Olivia Farrer
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ELDAC

 

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