The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Pathways to Palliative Care Project is well underway, facilitated by Central Adelaide Palliative Care Service (CAPCS) which operates from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This timely project focuses on addressing barriers to access and choice of palliative care services for these populations, with extensive engagement throughout remote communities and Aboriginal health services within SA.
THRF Group Palliative Care awarded $70,000 to the statewide project auspiced by Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN).
SA Local Health Networks and key leaders agreed this project was needed to overcome barriers to access and choice for Aboriginal people at the end of their lives, and the facilitation of a meaningful voice for Aboriginal people in the development and implementation of a new palliative care model or pathway.
Through stakeholder consultation in metropolitan, rural and regional palliative care teams, various solutions are being identified to help strengthen palliative care pathways and cultural awareness for Aboriginal communities.
CAPCS Nurse Unit Manager Kathy Pearce and her team, including ATSI Project Officer and
Trainee Health Practitioner Lexa Weetra, visited Coober Pedy Hospital Health Centre where a Kidney Yarning Circle was held for local health professionals as part of a well-attended workshop.
“Since commencing this project and engaging with Aboriginal Health Services in CALHN and South Australia, CAPCS palliative care referrals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has increased significantly,” Kathy said.
“Connecting with the health services has enabled relationships to develop within these communities, which has led to the increase in referrals to our team, which has historically been low. Patients and families are now accessing services, enabling choice over where they die and treatments they accept.”
“We are thankful to THRF for supporting our project which has now led to seven recommendations to improve access to palliative care for the Aboriginal population in South Australia,” Kathy said.
Strengthening Aboriginal specialist palliative care by building an Aboriginal palliative care workforce centrally and regionally, plus providing tailored cultural education to palliative care teams, are just some of the outcomes identified.
Additionally offering specialist hospice, respite and other supports for Aboriginal communities and building awareness within key mainstream referral sources for palliative care are other key solutions.
Encouragingly, there is enthusiasm and willingness amongst mainstream palliative care professionals to provide better access and culturally safe and responsive palliative care to Aboriginal people in South Australia. We are proud to support such meaningful and transformational work and look forward to seeing further outcomes from this project!