A national survey focusing on the mental health needs of the terminally ill is underway as part of a project to improve the delivery of palliative care services across Australia.
The online survey is one part of the Listen, Acknowledge, Respond project involving Charles Sturt University (CSU) and two not-for-profit organisations, the Amaranth Foundation and integratedliving Australia Ltd – a community based aged care provider.
Chief researcher and Amaranth CEO, Ms Julianne Whyte said mental illness in the terminally ill is under-diagnosed and under-treated, often due to a lack of knowledge, resources or training.
"Quality of life is important at any life stage, but even more so when you know your time is limited," Ms Whyte said.
"Our research shows the mental wellbeing of palliative care patients significantly impacts their quality of life while dying, and addressing these needs takes specialist skills.
"Healthcare professionals admit they need more guidance, and the overall Listen Acknowledge Respond project will address this treatment gap through targeted research and professional development programs."
The survey measures the existing skills, knowledge and confidence of allied health professionals in supporting the mental health needs and concerns of people with advanced chronic and terminal illnesses, and their families and care givers.
Mental health clinicians, primary carers, nurses, the aged care workforce, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and speech therapists are all encouraged to participate.
The survey is open until the end of January 2016, and is available here.
Results of the survey will contribute to the development of new training programs to close this treatment gap.
As part of the Listen, Acknowledge, Respond project a range of training workshops will be delivered including a Graduate Certificate in Integrated Chronic and Terminal Care, which will commence at CSU in 2016.
Course Director in CSU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences Dr Cate Thomas said, "This course is a first of its kind and I'm very proud that Charles Sturt University is offering it. It reflects how we work with government and industry to develop courses that respond to community need.
"This exciting new program offers professionals a new model of health and community care for people with advanced chronic illness and their families.
"While some courses specialise in aged care, palliative care or chronic illness, no other course brings these all together and also focuses on the mental wellbeing of this vulnerable population," Dr Thomas said.
Applicants for the course would normally hold a three-year degree in allied health, primary health, aged care, mental health, social work or nursing.
Only 50 places are available in 2016, so interested professionals are encouraged to apply.
Listen, Acknowledge, Respond is funded under the Commonwealth government's Public Health Chronic Disease and Palliative Care program. Read more here.
Media contact: Fiona Halloran and Emily Malone , (02) 6933 2207
The research has the approval of the CSU Ethics Committee.
Chief researcher and Amaranth CEO, Ms Julianne Whyte is available for interview about the survey on mobile 0408 388 533.
Dr Cate Thomas from CSU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Wagga Wagga is available for interview about the Graduate Certificate in Integrated Chronic and Terminal Care. Contact CSU Media.
integratedliving CEO, Ms Catherine Daley is available for comment on the services offered by integratedliving. Contact Marketing Manager Ms Vanessa Jones on mobile 0418 598 391.