There is a new approach for reviewing the palliative needs of residential aged care residents. This comes in the form of a simple checklist. Better still, it was developed by a team from Calvary and Australian Catholic University.
The checklist is known as the Palliative Care Needs Rounds Checklist. Its first trial was conducted in 2014-2015 at four sites. During that trial, it was shown that a proactive, integrated approach is a beneficial way of providing specialised palliative care to the elderly in residential care facilities. Now, it is undergoing a second round of test in 12 sites.
With the help of the checklist, the registered nurses, care managers and carers will be able to identify and prioritize the elderly residents who are at risk of ‘unplanned’ dying
Benefits of the Tool in Residential Aged Care
Based on the conducted studies and tests, the tool or checklist provides several benefits. First, the benefits include cost-effectiveness. Second, it improves how well-managed pain and suffering are. Plus, it provides improved knowledge and skills to the residential aged care team.
This finding is backed by a recent study published in British Medical Journal.
With the help of the checklist, the registered nurses, care managers and carers will be able to identify and prioritize the elderly residents who are the risk of unplanned dying. Now the checklist can be used by a palliative care member in any aged care home in Australia.
The tool is evidence-based, which makes it more reliable and useful. That’s because the results are based on interviews, descriptions and actual data capturing. This usually transpires during monthly needs rounds in palliative care.
Preparation is the key to a better palliative care.
Patients who have unidentified and unpredicted symptoms are more at risk of dying. The checklist is designed to identify exactly that. In fact, with the information collected from actual residents of a residential aged care facility, the carers and nurses are able to identify each resident’s symptoms and prepare for them in advance. Of course, this is better than waiting for something to occur before doing something. After all, preparation is the key to a better palliative care.
The Proactive Approach
The checklist includes a list of so-called ‘triggers’. These are necessary to determine if a resident, in the first place, should be identified as ‘at risk’. If so, a series of questions will then be asked of the resident. The questions are based on whether the resident is being reviewed or a new referral.
The checklist is a proactive approach. Better still, it has multiple benefits to both the carers and elderly residents. Residents most at risk of drying are being identified early. This gives their family more time to spend with their loved ones. Plus, they can better prepare for what’s to come. This way, the residents will feel more valued and loved before the inevitable happens.
This approach to residential aged care will not prevent the death. But at least it will help the residents manage their symptoms more effectively before they die. They also get to die where they want to die. For example, they can plan to die in the comfort of their home. Best of all, they can be surrounded by their loved ones. As to the staff, the tool allows them to perform their jobs to their full capacity.
The Future of Palliative Care
The next move would logically be to bring this tool to more facilities in the country. Notably, this tool is much needed in palliative facilities located in remote and rural parts of the country. It would be a great result in residential aged care if every facility had at least one specialist tasked to use the palliative care checklist.