A consortium of groups willing to improve palliative care education and training of health and aged care workforce

Amaranth Foundation, Charles Sturt University and Integrated Living Inc, have been successful as a consortium for the Commonwealth funded “Public Health, Chronic Disease and Palliative Care” 2015 Grant Round. The consortia submitted three interlinked projects under the overarching title: Listen, Acknowledge, Respond.

The Listen Acknowledge Respond activities are designed to identify and build the capacity of the mental health, allied health, social work and other health care workers, in primary and specialist settings to support end of life psychosocial and psychological care needs for people with advanced chronic and life limiting illnesses, their families and care givers.

This project : Listen, Acknowledge, Respond provides the Australian health care community with a unique opportunity to make a difference for people at the end of their lives and for their loved ones in their bereavement. Whilst mental illness does not threaten life or decrease life expectancy of itself, it can have a severe impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Many people carry mental illness into their final years of life. Having a terminal illness and a coexisting mental illness is a very complex situation and requires a specialised knowledge and skill base, both in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and in end of life and palliative care. Applying a generic mental health response and strategy to this population group will not attend to their overarching and immediate issues relating to their terminal or life threatening illness.

Mental illness in the terminally ill is under diagnosed and undertreated. People generally underreport their distress and there is an expectation by health care professionals and the community at large that dying people will and should experience depression, anxiety and sadness. Whilst existential and psychological care are considered crucial to the provision of quality end of life care, people continually report that theirs, their families and care givers needs in this domain are not addressed.