A new report has found managing compassionate end of life care needs more funding.
Researchers from Western Sydney University in partnership with The GroundSwell Project, released a report in late November after two years of research.
The report, Researching Compassionate Communities in Australia: a short-term longitudinal study, is the first comprehensive assessment of community-centred end of life care in Australia.
The university's research team, led by Professor Debbie Horsfall, documented experiences of people from nine Compassionate Community public health projects nation-wide, including the Blue Mountains, highlighting challenges and benefits of this care.
An urgent need for funding was identified to provide structured support and practitioner-focused resources.
Compassionate Communities are emerging as a new international strategy for implementing public health palliative care.
In 2017, the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network established a group to manage key recommendations in the Caring for People at End of Life report. Its purpose - to develop a whole-of-community approach to end of life care based on Compassionate Communities, and The GroundSwell Project and Western Sydney University, who were engaged to begin the Blue Mountains 'Our Compassionate Community' project in 2018.
The group wanted to improve death literacy in the community, including in doctors and build networks of support to treat the end of a person's life as normal.
"Compassionate Communities are a relatively new way of providing palliative care. Through a social network, responsibilities are divided to ensure people with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions receive the care they want and need," Professor Horsfall said.
According to GroundSwell spokeswoman Holly Rankin-Smith, strategies need to be developed "which both support and expect a more diverse response across all levels of the community, from local meetings, to leaders and peak bodies in the field".
"In one of the communities, relationships between the community, palliative care and the funeral industry were being built as all these groups literally met around a table to see what they could do better."
Tara Gilding is one Blue Mountains resident who participated in the Compassionate Communities project.
She enjoyed being one of many 'community connectors' in the Mountains, exploring ways to support vulnerable people.
"It came in handy during our bushfire season, it feels great to feel more connected ... and to know how to assist people to find the right support."
"I learnt a lot about what is already available in my community from others at the training through sharing our experiences and knowledge of our local areas [and] assisted with developing the My Health Connector website where we captured the insights of the group, so we could easily direct people to find local activities and services to assist them in their unique situations."
Ms Gilding said some community events included the Back to the Brink Fringe Festival and the Public Health Palliative Care International conference in October 2019.
"It was a great conversation starter."
The project also took in Dulong, QLD, Central Coast LGA in Tas, Ballina, Newcastle, Northern Beaches, Bundanoon in NSW, Warrnambool in Vic and Bunbury, WA.
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