As it is National Palliative Care Week, we thought that we would speak to a palliative care team to get a sense of how palliative care is managed for residents, clients, families and staff at The Salvation Army Aged Care. The Care Quality and Compliance team have also shared some information about the GRACE model which is integral to our practise of palliative care.

Our GRACE model provides an interconnected set of principles delivering world leading person-centred and holistic aged care and an approach inclusive of physical, emotional and spiritual care throughout the ageing process. Our aim is to reduce the suffering of the person and their loved ones and adopt a positive and open attitude towards living by providing quality of life until death.

Our team actively engages the person, their family and carers to work in partnership to communicate, plan, set goals and provide support to enable informed decisions about their care. The provision of care incorporates the unique needs, values and preferences, integrated across the person’s experience. The strong collaboration ensures that families and carers are connected to a bereavement support and palliative care services ensuring a comprehensive, respectful and dignified support in the end of life care.

Our palliative care is based on:

  • Comfort
  • Contentment
  • Love
  • Dignity
  • Peace
  • Respect
  • Courage

Macquarie Lodge Aged Care Centre:

At Macquarie Lodge Aged Care Centre, the palliative care team consists of the resident’s doctor or the Local Area Health Service Palliative Care Team, the centre team which includes a Registered Nurse, a clinician, care staff and chaplains and the family and/or friends of the palliating resident. Regular reviews and health checks are conducted and once a resident shows signs of terminal phase of life, the End of Life Care Pathway is activated.

The End of Life Care Pathway provides a guideline and the necessary checklist for palliative care. It ensures that an advanced care plan is in place to keep the resident as comfortable as possible and ensure that all his/her needs are met. This includes any spiritual or cultural requests as well as providing emotional support to the family.  “Our job is not only to support the client, but also to support their families,” says Kathryn Pineda, the Clinical Coordinator at Macquarie Lodge Aged Care Centre.

Palliative Care is different from other forms of care, says Milly Prokopenko, the Centre Manager at Macquarie Lodge Aged Care Centre. “It is a totally different kind of nursing. The focus is on pain management,” she says. “Knowing that the resident’s systems are shutting down, we try to make the resident as comfortable as we can. There is also a lot more focus on the families – we offer to bring them food/coffee, blankets, organise any overnight accommodation, whatever is necessary,”

The palliative care team at Macquarie Lodge received some feedback from the daughter of a client about her mother’s final days and she was very appreciative of the care and compassion that was shown to her mother.  “We very much appreciated the way your palliative team professional handled mum in her final hours coming in to manage her pain, clean her and make her as comfortable as possible all day and all night,” Daphne said. “The kindness and care shown by the palliative team to mum was far beyond our expectations and very much appreciated.”

Kathryn says that the palliative care team take comfort in knowing that they are doing the best for the resident when they are alive and that when they pass, they are no longer experiencing pain or suffering. “You get stronger as you spend longer in the role,” she says when asked about how staff cope with residents departing. “Nevertheless, no one is immune, you can’t provide a holistic care without having an emotional connection and sometimes we do get emotional and that is when we are extremely lucky to have our Chaplains in the Centre as well as a great team to lean on for support,”

Milly says that it’s important to remember all the good times had with a client when trying to maintain a positive team and a happy home for the elderly. “We take comfort in knowing that while the clients are alive and with us, we give them the best care we can – choice, decision-making, working with family – we try to make them (the resident and their family) their own small home within our big home and that brings a lot of joy and satisfaction,” she says.