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General Practice nurses encouraged to talk about death

Aiming to introduce advance care planning into general practices in a sensitive and routine way, the national federally funded training program Advance will offer special training to more than 4,000 general practice nurses across Australia.

A new training program will give GP nurses the skills to start conversation about dying with patients with empathy, care and compassion
A new training program will give GP nurses the skills to start conversation about dying with patients with empathy, care and compassion

The program, delivered by a consortium led by HammondCare, will also help identify people who may benefit from a thorough assessment of their supportive care needs and consideration of early referral to palliative care.

The main focus of the program will be about initiating a conversation about planning for future health care, particularly in case the person ever became too unwell to speak for themselves.

While health professionals can feel uncomfortable discussing death and dying with their patients, Associate Professor Josephine Clayton, Staff Specialist Physician in Palliative Medicine, with HammondCare says most patients and carers welcome the opportunity to talk about their symptoms, problems, concerns and priorities.

“The training the nurses will receive through the program gives them the skills to start the conversations with patients with empathy, care and compassion.”

“At this stage we will be training nurses in general practices because their ongoing relationship with patients means they are ideally placed to provide a full supportive care needs assessment. This assessment will help to see if the patient, and their carers, have any unmet needs,” Associate Professor Clayton says.

Training will take place across all metropolitan cities and major regional centres during the next five months. Scholarships are available to regional and rural general practice nurses.

There is also an online training program which has been endorsed by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA). The Advance Toolkit has been officially recognised as an accepted clinical resource by the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

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