An online platform to help families and health workers in a palliative care setting has been launched globally.

PalliAGED is an online program developed by Flinders University in South Australia, which connects health professionals and family members with the best evidence-based support for palliative care in aged care.

It was launched this week by Australian Minister of Ageing Ken Wyatt and is available on the web and in relevant app stores.

Lead researcher Jennifer Tieman said PalliAGED was the next step in ensuring more people received the highest level of care possible.

“At some stage we will all die and people should have information at hand about end-of-life and palliative care,” she said.

“Australia has had a very proud history of leading the world in guidance for end-of-life care for older people and now that we are in a new era (of technology) we continue to lead by establishing an easily accessible online resource.”

Assoc Prof Tieman said although PalliAGED was designed for the Australian public, the information was being made available to the rest of the world, with a focus on reaching rural and remote areas.

The movement from a hard copy to an online resource also makes it easier to keep the information in the program up to date.

PalliAGED provides health professionals in community and residential practices with a range of information including palliative approach framework, advanced care planning, case conferencing and terminal care planning.

The program also helps families understand how things change as an older person moves towards death and highlights different types of relevant care.

Assoc Prof Tieman said this was often the case for patients who develop cognitive issues such as dementia or physical conditions that reduce mobility.

In 2006, Australian researchers developed the Palliative Approach in Residential Aged Care (APRAC) program, the first guideline of its kind in the world. This was followed by Palliative Approach for Aged Care in the Community (COMPAC) guidelines.

Speaking at the launch of the PalliAGED website in Canberra yesterday, Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said there was an increasing need of appropriate end-of-life care and palliative care support for individuals, their families and the clinicians that looked after them.

“The evidence based data that PalliAGED will assemble, the guidance it will provide, and the practical resources it will offer, is immense,” he said.

“And I believe that in the years to come, the PalliAGED website will prove of immense value to the range of professions across the palliative care sector – and to those they care for.”

Palliative care addresses the physical, psychosocial and emotional suffering of patients with serious advanced illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, congestive heart failure, neurodegenerative disorders, chronic respiratory diseases and others.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), only 10 per cent of people who require palliative care receive necessary medical care and about one third of patients suffer from cancer.

PalliAGED is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and managed by CareSearch at Flinders University.

This article first appeared in The Lead South Australia.

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