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01 February 2024

New research from Silverchain and QUT will explore the key factors that enable people to receive palliative care at home and ultimately to die in their preferred place.

The research is being undertaken by QUT PhD student Norah Elvidge, with funding provided by Silverchain, one of Australia’s biggest in-home health and aged care providers. 

Ms Elvidge said that while Australian and international research had consistently shown that many people with palliative care needs would prefer to die at home, there were still many barriers to accessing the level of palliative care needed to die comfortably at home.

“Although many people have a desire for palliative care to occur at home, unplanned hospitalisations in the last weeks or days of life can occur if the person’s care needs exceed available community resources or they lack a primary carer or their primary carer is exhausted,” Ms Elvidge said.

“These admissions can also occur because many people or their carers and health providers are uncomfortable or underprepared about the concept of dying at home,” Ms Elvidge said.

Silverchain’s National Director of Research and Evidence Professor Karen Smith said equity of access was essential in meeting people’s end of life needs. 

“Silverchain offers comprehensive palliative care in the home, meeting acute care needs, but there are still inconsistencies across the sector nationally that create barriers for people needing to access this type of care,” Professor Smith said. 

“The extensive data and qualitative information from more than 40 years of Silverchain’s community palliative care services will provide significant insights for this research and help assess the barriers to accessing end of life care in the patient’s preferred place. 

“The PhD scholarship is focused on improving the experience and outcomes of palliative patients receiving specialist community palliative care from Silverchain. Research like this also has potential implications on health policy and resource allocation for the palliative care sector overall,” Professor Smith said.

Ms Elvidge has Bachelor of Nursing through QUT and has been undertaking research projects relating to palliative care. This project is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of factors that enable people to receive palliative care at home for longer and to die at home.

“Ultimately I would like to see the research contribute to the development of strategies that improve end-of-life experiences and outcomes,” Ms Elvidge said.

“It may also inform health care policy and planning for economically sustainable models of care at the end of life.”

QUT Professor Jane Phillips said this was part of QUT's broad and significant work in the area of palliative care. 

“This research is an excellent example of QUT's capacity to partner with industry to address a real-world health problem of national and global significance,” Professor Phillips said.

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