Overcoming Palliative Care Challenges in Rural and Remote Communities

Palliative care is not only applicable to senior patients. In fact, palliative cares are recommended for people from all walks of life who are suffering from a terminal illness. However, when it comes to rural and remote settings, Dr. Ewan McPhee, President of Rural Doctors Association of Australia, emphasised the need for dedicated palliative care facilities to cater to the needs of rural and remote communities. He further stated that palliative care in rural and remote areas are given at local hospitals because very few rural palliative care centres are available for the community compared to those in large cities.


palliative cares

Since palliative care is developed mostly in urban areas, there is an ongoing shortage of palliative cares services in rural and remote places in Australia. One-third of Australians live in rural areas based on Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, and another half live in remote areas in the country. However, the prevalence of cancer in these rural and remote communities is practically the same as that in urban areas. But the mortality is definitely higher for people who live in rural communities because access to healthcare has been problematic.


If you or your elderly loved ones live in remote areas in Australia, you have to remember that there are problems most rural clients face when seeking palliative care and they are listed below:


1. Isolation. Being in a remote and rural area may lead to isolation. This will easily make your loved ones feel depressed. Even if they are natural introverts, they still need to surround themselves with people and perform individual tasks to further enhance their sense of purpose. This is definitely an issue if they already have a terminal illness, like cancer for instance, that requires palliative care services.


2. Inaccessible Locations. In rural areas, distance to a medical centre is the common issue for the higher mortality rate. If you or your loved ones require palliative care cancer patients require, they may find it challenging to visit medical practitioners or a palliative care facility to address their needs. Although there may be patient transport system that you can access, you still need to ensure someone is readily available for help. Not many health professionals are available in rural areas and despite the government’s effort to remedy the problem, it is still an ongoing issue as to date.


3. Limited Specialists Available. Finding a specialist for palliative care may be challenging if you or your loved ones live in rural areas. This service is almost always offered by your general practitioner with close collaboration with local community health services. But if you need a dedicated facility for palliative care in cancer patients, very few are accessible.


Through the years, the healthcare system has undergone various changes, leading to the decrease in healthcare services in remote and rural communities. There is also the dwindling number of healthcare providers serving the rural and remote communities. Delivering quality palliative care in these areas is even more compromised. A lot of requests have been made for the Australian government to provide more funding for palliative cares especially for rural and remote areas. See more at https://arcare.com.au/palliative-care/