Referral processes to palliative care

Increasing evidence from around the world shows that access to palliative care can improve quality of life and survival for people with cancer

The timeliness of referral to palliative care for people with metastatic cancer has been identified as an area for improvement in Victoria. This issue was raised at the lung and pancreatic cancer Tumour Summits and has been recognised as a priority by other stakeholders such as the DHHS and Safer Care Victoria.

This project aims to increase the number of people with metastatic or progressing cancer who receive an appropriate and timely referral to palliative care
What we've done so far

A region-wide project steering group has been formed with representation from palliative care, medical oncology, consumers and a community palliative care provider. We have started by doing literature searches, medical record audits and local process mapping with clinicians and other stakeholders. 

We have found there are local variations in referral practices to specialist palliative care at NEMICS health services.

A pilot has commenced to test a screening tool to systematically identify patients with palliative care needs, with plans for further roll out.

Several challenges have been identified throughout the project, including data completeness, establishing quality indicators, capacity/intake criteria of palliative care providers; and the huge conceptual shift needed by clinicians, patients and carers around perceptions of palliative care.

What next?
  • Further roll out of systematic needs-assesment for a palliative care referral (screening tool and process).

  • A region-wide palliative care communication skills training program will be delivered for medical, nursing and allied health staff.

  • Wider promotion of palliative care services to clinicians and consumers will take place via grand rounds and developing/improving written consumer information.

For further information please email Lena Elkman, Project Manager, or phone 03 9496 3712


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