Written by Professor Jennifer Tieman, Director, RePaDD.
2021 has been a year of many changes. It was only in March this year that the final recommendations of Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety were released. Within the 148 recommendations relating to palliative care including compulsory palliative care training for workers, comprehensive sector funding that specifically includes palliative and end-of-life care, and a review of the Aged Care Quality Standards to require residential aged care providers to provide high-quality palliative care. Health care provision, including palliative care provision, continued to be disrupted by the Covid19 pandemic.
Against this background of change and adaption, the RePaDD researchers continued to deliver existing grants, partner with services and communities to develop grant applications, and support state and national palliative care development and improvement initiatives. Across the year we have continued to maintain and improve major national website and knowledge projects such as CareSearch, ELDAC, palliAGED and End-of-Life Essentials. We have commenced projects in patient-controlled analgesia and examined policy perspectives on equity and inclusion. Studies to understand the aged care workforce perspectives and experiences around caring for people at the end of life, the role and contribution of death doulas as well as the development of digital resources have also been a focus of our research endeavors. Our grant funded research has been enhanced by research being undertaken by out RHD cohort. Two recent announcements have further highlighted the growing contribution and significance of the RePaDD Centre.
The first relates to an investment by Flinders University in a world-class Health and Medical Research Building (HMRB) for Southern Adelaide. As a leading biomedical research facility, it will enable collaboration between researchers, healthcare, and industry partners and encourage the translation of research into improved community healthcare outcomes. Relocating the RePaDD research teams into the new Health and Medical Building (HMRB) recognises the reality of ageing, caring, dying, and grieving for the health system and for the community. It acknowledges that health professionals and the health system is identifying and responding to the care needs for people coming to the end of life.
The other announcement is Flinders University has been successful in winning the bid to establish the Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research. This new Centre aims to transform the way that aged care is delivered in Australia with a focus on the workforce and translation of research outcomes into practice. Its research activities will occur across Australia with priorities for the first year being dementia care, restorative care/rehabilitation, mental health and wellbeing, and social isolation. The successful bid was built upon the commitment of 73 aged care and academic partners and the skills and expertise of staff and teams from the Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute, the Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death and Dying and the Medical Device Partnering Program. Funding for the new Centre will enable RePaDD researchers to develop a Knowledge and Implementation Hub. This Hub will sit alongside an aged care partnering and grant program and a stream of work focused on delivering workforce capability and capacity.
This has been a challenging and exciting year. Individual, community, and systems issues around ageing, caring, dying, and grieving remain priorities and RePaDD researchers are providing not only insights into palliative care needs but solutions for care and service delivery.