Decision Assist website goes live with telehealth and app to come

The first stage in the Decision Assist palliative care and advance care planning advisory service has gone live, with a website launched and a 24/7 telephone advice service on advanced care planning now available for GPs and aged care providers.

Decision Assist is the collective name for the Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services, a consortium of seven healthcare organisations and research institutes that successfully won funding of $14.8 million over three years to establish a nationwide palliative care service under the previous government's Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package.

The new service aims to provide GPs and aged care providers with information on palliative care, advance care planning and advance care directives, including the legislation and processes in each state and territory, create links between aged care and palliative care, as well as training workshops.

The national 1300 668 908 advisory phone service on advance care planning is now available, with a palliative care service due to launch in September. It is expected that the palliative care service will provide advice on topics such as symptom control and medication.

The service also plans to create web-based resources including tablet and smartphone access, apps, and to provide telehealth services to overcome geographic isolation.

The service's lead agency is Austin Health's Respecting Patient Choices, with partners including Flinders University/CareSearch, Palliative Care Australia, the University of Queensland/Blue Care Research and Practice Development Centre, the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, Leading Age Services Australia, Aged and Community Services Australia and Queensland University of Technology.

Austin Hospital intensive care specialist and director of the Respecting Patient Choices program, Bill Silvester, said at the announcement of the service last year that it would be the first time there was an advisory service for advance care planning in Australia.

“We know that quality end of life care is realised when it meets the person's needs and upholds their preferences,” Associate Professor Silvester said.

“It is vital that all health professionals are well trained in advance care planning and that we offer older Australians the opportunity to take control of decisions which affect their care.”

A strong focus of the project is to provide aged care providers and GPs with specialised education. Adelaide Unicare e-health has developed a set of four online education modules to introduce basic telehealth that is available on the new Decision Assist website.

There are also CPD resources for telehealth and eHealth from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Training workshops will be held in all states throughout the year, and an official promotional event to launch the full services is scheduled for October.

The launch comes as South Australia's Advance Care Directives Act 2013 comes into effect. Under the SA legislation, a single document will replace the former enduring power of guardianship, medical powers of attorney and anticipatory direction instruments.

The Northern Territory has also passed an Advance Personal Planning Bill that specifies an advance consent decision document that allows people to record directions about their future healthcare, an advance care statement and the ability to appoint a decision maker.

Posted in Aged Care

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