MEDIA RELEASE: Dying with choice and dignity essential for older Australians

COTA Australia welcomes recommendations from the Senate Inquiry into palliative care that give older people more information and choice about where and how they receive care at their last stage of life.

National Policy Manger for COTA Australia, Jo Root, said dying was one of the last taboo topics in our community but one that was of keen interest to older people who just want their wishes heard.

“When we asked COTA members to share their experiences and thoughts on how to improve palliative care in Australia for this Inquiry we were overwhelmed with responses,” Ms Root said.

“Older people want to die in a way and a place of their own choosing.

“While many do want to die at home and with family, others prefer a hospice or hospital. The key message from everyone is they want the right to have care services provided wherever they choose to receive them.

“They have very strong views on the need for medical practitioners to respect Advance Heath Directives and to ensure staff in hospital emergency departments can access these directives quickly and easily and have their wishes about levels of medical intervention heeded.”

Ms Root said it was pleasing to see that many of the issues raised by COTA Australia had been picked up in the Senate report.

“COTA strongly supports an increase in funding to the palliative care sector and particularly to initiatives for ‘dying in place’,” Ms Root said.

“A suggested increase in funding to the Respecting Patients Choices program and greater attention to advanced health directive will also be welcomed by older people and their families.

“Workforce is another crucial issue it is good to see the Senate has picked up. None of the other supported initiatives can be implemented without a well-trained and caring palliative care workforce and more informed general practitioners.

“Palliative care has been a neglected area in Australia for too long. COTA thanks the Senate Committee for producing such a comprehensive report.

“I encourage the Federal Government to look closely at what this enquiry has revealed and act promptly to improve palliative care for older people now and into the future.”

Media contact: Jo Root 0430 395 048, Anastasia Stomo 0432 243 389