Senate Inquiry into Palliative Care

Submission to Senate Inquiry into Palliative Care
(March 2012)

COTA Australia welcomes this Inquiry as palliative care is an issue of great importance to older people and is often raised in forums hosted by COTAs around the country. In the Minister for Ageing’s ‘Conversations on Ageing’ with older people in 2011 around aged care reform it emerged as a key area of concern for many older people. The Minister for Ageing also asked the Expert Reference Group on Ageing for advice on this issue and its advice is in the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) Aged Care Reform Series paper on palliative care. COTA was a leading participant in the development of that paper and endorses its recommendations.

COTA also put out a call for input into its submission from its members in its national ONECOTA magazine and we have received an unprecedented response to that call. Those responses and the issues raised in COTA forums and with the Minister cover a wide range of concerns with palliative care which align with the broad terms of reference for the Inquiry.

COTA endorses the World Health Organisation‘s definition of palliative care. We would like to emphasise the need for palliative care to include not just the person dying but their family, friends and other support networks and that good palliative care extends beyond the death of the patient in providing grief and bereavement services to those people.

COTA was included in the consultations that informed the development of the 2010 National Palliative Care Strategy and is supportive of that Strategy. It is clear from the issues raised with us that there is no nationally consistent approach to palliative care. We are hopeful that this Inquiry will assist with the process of getting the principles and objectives from the Strategy implemented across Australia to ensure greater consistency and to provide people with the assurance that appropriate palliative care services will be available when they need them.

Our Submission is informed by the input from our members and the broader older population. We would like to thank those people who gave us their stories and agreed to include them in this submission as we know for many of them this was not an easy thing to do.