Digital transformations addressing critical gaps in palliative and end-of-life care


The federally funded End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) project has been reshaping palliative care in the aged care space since its launch in 2017. Now in its third three-year funding round, the project addresses critical gaps in the aged care sector, ensuring that Australians are provided with the high-quality end-of-life care they rightfully deserve.

Dr Priyanka Vandersman, a Registered Nurse and Senior Research Fellow at Flinders University’s Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death, and Dying (RePaDD), is a dedicated member of the ELDAC project team. Within this role, she focuses on enhancing the Australian aged care sector’s capacity to support end-of-life caregiving practices through the creation, deployment, and assessment of resources and tools.

Dr Priyanka Vandersman

“While palliative care is core business in aged care, there was a clear need for a repository of information and resources that aged care services could utilise,” Dr Vandersman explains. “Our aim is to enhance the sector’s knowledge, skills, and capabilities in delivering high-quality palliative and end-of-life care.”

Central to ELDAC’s success is its comprehensive website, which features resources such as toolkits, technology solutions, service guides, staff learning tools and more. ELDAC toolkits are tailored to various settings and topics, such as dementia care and end-of-life law, which have been heavily utilised by aged care providers. “Our website is a major success as one stop shop for palliative care resources,” Dr Vandersman notes. “It’s gratifying to see how many people are accessing and benefiting from the information we provide.”

Another one of the standout innovations of the ELDAC project is the Home Care App, designed to support care workers with practical, real-time advice. The app, which has seen over 2,000 downloads since its release, offers quick tips on handling difficult conversations and situations, such as discussing death and dying with clients.

“The app helps care workers feel prepared and supported,” Dr Vandersman explains. “It’s user-friendly and ensures that care workers can quickly find the information they need when they need it.”

The ELDAC project has also developed the Self-Care Room, an interactive digital tool aimed at promoting workforce wellbeing and resilience. This innovative feature on the ELDAC website offers various self-care tips and allows users to create personalised self-care plans.

“The Self-Care Room supports workforce well-being,” says Dr Vandersman. “It emphasises that self-care is vital for those working in emotionally and physically demanding environments.”

The Self-Care Room also highlights the importance of organisational responsibility in promoting self-care. It includes sections on how organisations can support self-care among their staff, providing guidelines for managers and leaders on creating a supportive environment.

“Recognising that a conducive workplace is essential for effective self-care practices is crucial,” Dr Vandersman asserts. “Our tool provides guidance on how to encourage self-care activities among employees, ensuring a holistic approach to wellbeing.”

Another significant contribution by the ELDAC project is the development of a palliative care digital dashboard that integrates with aged care service’s clinical data management system. This platform consolidates essential clinical data related to palliative care, such as advanced care plans and family conference records, making it easier for nurses and clinicians to access and use relevant information.

“The platform helps clinicians access relevant clinical data about their residents/clients in one place, improving care efficiency and quality,” Dr Vandersman explains. “By having a centralised source of information, clinicians can make better care decisions and provide more personalised care.

The continuous improvements and innovations of the ELDAC project reflect its ongoing commitment to enhancing end-of-life care in the aged care sector. The success of the project is a testament to the dedication and expertise of researchers like Dr Vandersman, who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of older Australians and their families.

Looking ahead, the ELDAC project aims to expand its reach and impact further, continuously adapting to the evolving needs of the aged care sector. The project’s ongoing efforts to provide high-quality resources and support tools underscore its critical role in ensuring that all Australians receive the end-of-life care they wish for and deserve.

For more information about the ELDAC project and to access its resources, visit the ELDAC website.


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Death and Dying Palliative Care