Can focusing on harm prevention improve health and well-being at the end of life?

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The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

By Jackie Robinson

Jackie argues that a public health approach to end of life care which focuses on harm prevention and risk reduction for people with life limiting illness has the potential to improve health and well-being at the end of life. And, because this is Te Arai, there are videos embedded sharing service user experience. To view her slides see the below link:

Gaps in health and social care provision at end of life

I was lucky enough to attend the Public Health in Palliative Care conference in the Blue Mountains last week where  I presented findings from our VOICES project. Using a public health lens to analyse findings, we identified opportunities to collaborate, connect and partner with communities to address gaps in health and social care in the last year of life identified by bereaved families.

An adapted version of the Views of Informal Carers – Evaluation of Services (VOICES) questionnaire was used to survey 3,932 bereaved families about their experiences of health and social services in the last three months of life.  Nearly half the respondents reported inadequate support from health and social services – 10% received no support at all.  Key themes identified from the analysis of open response questions included: 1) a lack of social connection for both the ill person and their carer; 2) family/whānau feeling alone in the caring role; and 3) family/whānau experiencing barriers to caring for the sick person in the way they wanted, particularly in hospital and aged care settings.

This study identifies substantial gaps in service access for people with palliative care needs. We are currently exploring with Auckland District Health Board how these gaps could be addressed by adopting a public health lens.

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