Background: The Australian population is aging, and the proportion of older Australians will continue to grow over the coming decades. However, there is a lack of research published on the specific roles and responsibilities of allied health professionals (AHPs) providing palliative care within an aged care context. Understanding the roles and needs of AHPs providing care during the last months of life in the community and aged care facilities could contribute to workforce planning, targeted information and improved care.
Methods: In total, 108 eSurveys were collected between November 2019 to May 2020 from three allied health professions working in government-funded aged care; the majority of these being in residential aged care. Descriptive data are reported on the provision of care in key palliative care domains, care settings and practice activity.
Results: Nearly all respondents reported they had worked with older Australians who had palliative care needs. However, over one-third of respondents reported low levels of confidence in supporting clients or residents with palliative care needs. The majority indicated they would benefit from additional education and training and support in palliative care.
Conclusions: This study investigated the role of the allied health workforce in contributing to the care of older Australians at the end of life. It has also demonstrated that there are gaps in practice activity and work role that must be addressed to ensure this workforce can support older people with palliative care needs in receipt of aged care services.
- aged care
- allied health
- home care
- occupational therapists
- palliative care
- residential aged care